A couple have been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offenses following an operation in Lancashire and Liverpool.
The English Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with officers from Lancashire Police, Merseyside Police, Lancashire County Council and Liverpool City Council’s Trading Standards to execute money orders to two addresses on Wednesday, February 16.
Officers seized cash, documentation and electronic devices during searches of properties in the Digmoor area of Skelmersdale and Liverpool.
A 50-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man were taken into custody for questioning.
They have since been released under investigation pending further investigation.
Illegal Money Lending Team Leader Tony Quigley said: “Illegal money lending will not be tolerated and we will continue to work with our partners to take action against those who destroy our communities this manner.
“If you were offered a cash loan, threatened because you couldn’t pay, your bank card was taken away from you as collateral, or your debt continues to grow even as you make payments, then you have may have been bitten by a loan shark.
“If you, or someone you know, has experienced any of these things or has any knowledge of loan sharking activities, contact our team in confidence.
“We will help you escape the clutches of these ruthless criminals.”
Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Cultural Services, County Councilor Peter Buckley, said: ‘Illegal money lending is a hidden problem which has a terrible impact on the often vulnerable, leaving them in great financial difficulty.
“This is a crime and not something we will tolerate in Lancashire. We will continue to work closely with the Illegal Money Lending team and the police to resolve this issue.
Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for wards, Cllr Abdul Qadir, said: “It’s the best work of partnership. It’s great to see that the expertise and dedication of these teams is truly delivering results – results that will ultimately make a real, positive difference in the lives of vulnerable people.
“Inquiries like these send a clear message that this activity will not be tolerated, and we will continue to work with partners to ensure residents are not victimized by these unlicensed and unscrupulous pawnbrokers.”
Pay attention to these warning signs when dealing with loan sharks:
Giving you no paperwork or loan agreement
Refuse to give you information about the loan
Keep objects until the payment of the debt such as your bank card or your passport
Take things from you if you don’t pay on time
Add more interest or fees so the debt never goes down
Use intimidation or violence if you don’t pay
Anyone concerned about illegal money lending can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access online support at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.
Live chat is available on the website between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.