A man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offences following an operation in Stafford.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with officers from Staffordshire Police to execute a warrant at a residential address in Holmcroft on Tuesday, November 8.
Officers seized large amounts of cash, documentation and electronic devices during a search of the property.
The IMLT works in partnership with Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
A 74-year-old man was taken into custody for questioning. He has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Tony Quigley, Head of the 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 concerned about someone you know, our national helpline is available 24 hours a day on 0300 555 2222 for confidential advice and support.”
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Loan-sharking is a terrible crime that affects many of our communities and we work closely with the Illegal Money Lending Team and the Police to tackle it.
“These criminals usually prey on vulnerable residents and often intimidate, threaten and trap victims in a cycle of fear and violence. They may seem friendly at first but borrowing from them can have serious consequences.
“With many families facing extra financial pressures and the rising cost of living, it’s even more important that we stamp out the practice and make sure we protect communities.”
A report published by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that 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 provide 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 fill in our online form to access specialist support. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.