Two people were arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offences following an operation in Essex.
Officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with Essex Police to execute a search warrant at an address in Billericay on Tuesday, July 12.
Documentation, electronic devices and a quantity of cash were recovered during a search of the property.
The IMLT works in partnership with Essex County Council Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.
A 42-year-old woman and a 59-year-old man were taken into custody for questioning. They have since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England 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 worried about a loved one, our national helpline is open 24 hours a day on 0300 555 2222 and offers free and confidential support.”
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.
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 secure online report form. Live Chat is available on our website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Click the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to speak to our expert support team.