A 52-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering following an operation in Birkenhead, Wirral.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Wirral Council Trading Standards and Merseyside Police executed warrants at properties across five addresses in Rock Ferry and Tranmere on Wednesday, 28 April.
Officers seized electronic devices and a large quantity of cash during the searches.
The man was interviewed by IMLT officers and subsequently released under investigation pending further enquiries.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “We will continue to work with our partners to identify and combat illegal money lending in communities.
“We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark, or concerned about someone else, to come forward and get the help they need. Our specially trained staff will be able to help get you back on your feet again and access the right support for you.”
Loan sharks are turning to social media to hook people into a dangerous cycle of debt and charge extortionate interest rates on loans.
The criminals may appear friendly at first but their behaviour can quickly change, with some resorting to intimidation and threats if payments are not made.
The IMLT has launched a new interactive online film in schools warning of the dangers of loan sharks on social media.
The new film called ‘SHARK’ is being rolled out to all secondary schools, colleges and universities in England as part of a drive to educate young people about the risks associated with borrowing from loan sharks on social media.
The film was funded from cash recovered from loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
SHARK follows Liam’s story as he desperately tries to find money to pay back his friend who has taken out a phone contract for him.
After confiding in a separate friend about his financial problems, Liam is introduced to a loan shark on Snapchat who is well-known for lending money to students.
The film puts viewers in the shoes of the main character, allowing them to make choices on his behalf and decide what happens next.
The scenarios presented in the film are designed to highlight the risks faced by young people on social media and the consequences that can occur when borrowing from illegal money lenders. The situations are based on real-life experiences of victims of loan sharks.
Local actors star in the film, which was written and produced by Perception Theatre, an applied theatre and interactive film company based in Liverpool.
Watch SHARK and take part in the interactive film at www.perceptiontheatre.com/shark
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.
To report a loan shark, call the 24/7 confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222, email email@example.com or visit the website at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Live Chat is available on the website between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).