A 77 year-old woman and 78 year-old man are under investigation over allegations of illegal money lending and money laundering.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Stockton Council Trading Standards and Cleveland Police executed a warrant at a residential address in Carlton on Tuesday, 1 October.
During a search of the property, officers recovered a large quantity of documentation and electronic devices.
The suspects attended a voluntary interview at Stockton police station and were later released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We are in the early stages of our investigation and would urge anyone affected by illegal money lending to get in touch with us.
“Our advice to residents in need of financial support would be to turn to Tees Credit Union rather than a loan shark who could take advantage and charge extortionate interest rates.”
Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said: “We work closely with the police and national agencies like the IMLT to investigate suspected loan sharks.
“Alongside this, we do a great deal to make people aware that no matter how desperate you are, turning to a loan shark is never the answer.
“Their terms are often unclear, leaving you in the dark about how much money you actually have to pay.
“Extra interest payments are added at random, resulting in the amount owed spiralling out of control.
“Ultimately, loan sharks are in it for themselves and they often prey on the most vulnerable in our society.
“A much better alternative is to seek help from a Credit Union – the Tees Credit Union is based in Dovecot Street in Stockton town centre or you can visit the website to find out about their services.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.
To report a loan shark, call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or complete a secure form here.