Two men, aged 47 and 50 years old were arrested this morning (18 April 2018) on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering, following an operation in Widnes.
The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Halton Borough Council Trading Standards and Cheshire Constabulary executed warrants at two residential addresses in Hough Green, seizing documentation and electronic devices.
The suspects are currently in custody and are being questioned by officers from the IMLT.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“Loan sharks prey on some of the most vulnerable members in our society and so it’s vitally important we work with key organisations to combat illegal money lending and protect residents.
“This operation sends out a clear message to all those involved in this type of criminal activity that we will not tolerate loan sharks in Cheshire. We urge residents who have fallen victim to this crime to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222 and help us bring these unscrupulous lenders to justice.”
Deana Perchard, Halton Borough Council’s Trading Standards Manager, said:
“Halton Borough Council welcomes this result and we will continue to support the important work of the Illegal Money Lending Team.
“Loan sharks target those who find it difficult to borrow money from more regular sources. Anyone who lends you money and asks for more in return is not a friend – if they’re not licensed to provide loans, they’re a loan shark”
IMLT officers have recently delivered a series of training sessions to police and frontline workers on the key signs to look out for that a client or resident is being targeted by a loan shark.
It is hoped that this knowledge will enable staff and PCSO’s to support loan shark victims and encourage them to report the crime by calling the IMLT 24 hour confidential hotline.
Sergeant Neil Edgar, Widnes Local Policing Unit, said:
“Loan sharks are criminals who prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our community; they will often make threats and use violence in order to enforce payments.
“Cheshire Police will not tolerate this type of behavior and we are committed to working with our partners to bring those responsible to justice. I urge anyone who believes that they are a victim to contact the national loan shark helpline.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 382 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 329 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject