A 51-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering, following an operation in Sunderland.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Sunderland City Council Trading Standards and Northumbria Police, executed a warrant at a residential property in Hendon this morning (Tuesday 21 July).
Officers seized a quantity of cash, documentation and electronic devices as part of the investigation.
The suspect remains in police custody where he is being questioned.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We will continue to work closely with our partners to protect communities and families from the devastation of loan sharks.
“If you have been affected by illegal money lending and you need confidential support or information, call our 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222. You can also use live chat on our website to talk to our expert support team online and in confidence between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. We will help keep you safe and let you know what your options are.”
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller said: “We’ve estimated that more than £12m leaks out of Sunderland’s economy annually in extra interest payments to high cost lenders, rent to own stores and payday lenders.
“Most people at some point in their lives need access to credit and many more may now be feeling the pinch financially because of COVID.
“This City Council wants to see affordable options because nobody should be having to resort to illegal lending and extortionate rates.
“Tackling financial exclusion and reducing poverty includes creating better credit and debit solutions. As with many other local authorities across our region, we are actively promoting the Moneywise Credit Union.
“Sunderland is a co-operative council and credit unions are co-operative solutions helping to create a financial community where members of the union mutually benefit because there’s no profit for shareholders.
“Credit unions are for everyone, not just the poor, and a good credit union with a mixed economy of customers can be very useful for those who cannot get access to ordinary bank products. People should not have to go to money lenders.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 400 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 586 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £83 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 30,000 people.