A 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offences following an operation in Lancashire.
Officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked with Lancashire Constabulary to execute a warrant at an address in Colne on Tuesday, June 28.
Documentation and electronic devices were seized during a search of the property last week.
The IMLT works in partnership with Lancashire County Council Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
The suspect was taken into custody for questioning. He has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
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.”
County Councillor Michael Green, Lancashire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Illegal money lending is an often hidden problem which has an awful impact on our communities, leaving vulnerable people in financial difficulty.
“It is a crime and not something we will tolerate in Lancashire. We will continue to work closely with the Illegal Money Lending Team and the police to track down illegal money lenders and take action against them.”
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 Live Chat service (available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday). Click on the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of our site to get connected to our expert support team.