Woman arrested in Exeter on suspicion of being a loan shark

A 46-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending following an operation in Exeter.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), working in partnership with officers from Devon and Cornwall Police, executed a warrant at an address in the Pennsylvania area on Wednesday, April 24.

Officers seized electronic devices and paperwork.

The suspect was taken into custody to be questioned by IMLT investigators and later released on bail pending further inquiries.

The IMLT works in partnership with the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “Today’s action is part of our ongoing work to tackle illegal money lending in England. We would like to thank our partners who have worked with us on this investigation.

“We would urge anyone who thinks they may be in debt to an illegal lender to contact us in confidence for specialist help and advice.

“We realise it might be a difficult step for people to admit they have borrowed from an illegal lender, but we are here to help, not judge.”

There are up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England, according to figures from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

The warning signs of an illegal lender include:

  • Giving you no paperwork or agreement on a loan 
  • Refusing to give you information about the loan 
  • Keeping items until the debt is paid such as your bank card or passport
  • Taking things from you if you don’t pay on time 
  • Adding more interest or charges so the debt never goes down 
  • Using intimidation or violence if you don’t pay

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, it has supported over 31,500 people and written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 416 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to 598 years in jail.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.