A man was arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offences after an operation in West Bromwich yesterday.
Officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team worked with West Midlands Police to execute a warrant at an address in the town on Tuesday, May 24.
Electronic devices were recovered during a search of the property.
The IMLT works in partnership with Trading Standards officers from Sandwell Council to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
The 41-year-old was taken into custody for questioning and has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Illegal money lending is a blight on our communities. These criminals deliberately target some of the most vulnerable in our society, using high interest rates and threats of violence to extort money from their victims.
“It is important we protect residents and make sure they know to avoid loan sharks, particularly in these tough economic times when we are all trying to make our money stretch a bit further. Other alternatives are always available.
“We will not tolerate this crime in our communities and will continue to pursue and prosecute those involved.”
Councillor Danny Millard, Sandwell Cabinet member for communities, added: “We fully support the work of the Illegal Money Lending Team. Loan sharks are unregulated, often give loans without any paperwork and charge extortionate interest rates. In many cases, victims are introduced to the lender either through a friend, family member or because they are known in the community.
“With many people and families struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living rises, residents may be tempted to go to loan sharks for a quick-fix to boost their finances.”
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.
Local residents, charities, community and voluntary groups, schools and statutory agencies can apply for grants of up to £5,000 for activities that highlight the dangers of loan sharks.
The Stop Loan Sharks Community Fund is made available from money seized from convicted loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). Organisations will need to demonstrate the positive impact their project would have on their community and how it will help tackle loan sharks.
Find out more about the grants and apply at www.stoploansharks.co.uk/poca-funding/
The closing date for applications is Thursday, 30th June 2022.
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 online reporting form here. Our live chat service is available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Just click the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to get connected to our expert support team.
Sandwell residents can find links to useful information, advice and support from the council and other organisations at www.sandwell.gov.uk/costoflivinghelp