A man was arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offences after an operation in Bristol last week.
Officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police to execute warrants at two addresses in Henbury and St Paul’s on Wednesday, July 20.
Documentation and electronic devices were seized during searches of the properties.
The IMLT works in partnership with Bristol City Council Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
The 43-year-old man was taken into custody for questioning. He has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
A 39-year-old woman will be required to attend a voluntary interview with investigators at a later date.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “We are committed to working with our partners to clamp down on illegal lenders and their exploitative practices.
“Loan sharks cause real pain and suffering to our communities. They offer what appear to be quick fix loans, but trap borrowers in a spiral of debt through extortionate fees and threats of violence.
“If you think you have been targeted by a loan shark or are worried about a loved one, our national helpline is open 24 hours a day on 0300 555 2222 and offers free and confidential support.”
A recent report published by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Swimming with Sharks, estimated 1.08 million people may currently owe money to loan sharks, with some lenders demanding sexual favours as repayment from borrowers.
Warning signs to indicate that you could be dealing with a loan shark include giving no paperwork upon the agreement of a loan, refusing to give detailed information about a loan, intimidation and threats, taking items such as a bank card or passport until the debt is paid, and taking things from you if you do not pay on time.
Anyone with concerns about illegal money lending can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or use our secure online form. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Click on the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to get connected to our expert support team.