A man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering following an operation in Leigh.

Documentation and electronic devices were seized following a raid on a property in the town yesterday (Wednesday 13 November).

A 59-year-old man was taken into custody as part of the operation by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in partnership with Wigan Council Trading Standards and Greater Manchester Police, and has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Loan sharks have a devastating impact on people’s lives and that of their families. I would encourage anyone who feels they may be a victim or has concerns about illegal money lending to contact the team on the national hotline.”

An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt.

Julie Middlehurst, Regulatory Services Manager at Wigan Council said: “We will not tolerate people who target our vulnerable residents and exploit them in this way. We hope this sends a clear message to others that we are actively working with our partners to stop loan sharks and bring them to justice.”

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.

Anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark, or knows of someone who has, can contact the Illegal Money Lending Team in confidence on 0300 555 2222. Lines are open 24/7 and callers can remain anonymous.