A 47-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offences following an operation in Sandwell.
The IMLT and West Midlands Police executed a search warrant at an address in Tividale on Wednesday, April 20, where officers recovered large quantities of cash, documentation and electronic devices.
The suspect was taken into custody for questioning. She has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable people and they are blight on our communities. They fleece their victims and have been known to use intimidation and violence to get their money.
“Our enquiries into this case remain ongoing and we urge anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by a loan shark to please come forward so that we can protect you and help you to access specialist victim support.”
Alice Davey, Director of Borough Economy for Sandwell Council, 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.”
Sandwell residents can find links to useful information, advice and support from the council and other organisations at www.sandwell.gov.uk/costoflivinghelp
In a recent report published last month, Swimming with Sharks, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) estimated that there could be up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England, 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, 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.
If you or someone you know is involved with a loan shark, call the 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222 or use our online reporting form here. Live chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Click the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to get connected to our expert support team.