A 51-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offenses following an operation in Widnes.
The English Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), in partnership with officers from Cheshire Police and Halton Borough Council Trading Standards, executed a warrant at an address in the Appleton area this morning, Wednesday, March 30.
Officers seized documents and electronic devices during a search of the property.
The suspect remains in custody for questioning.
Tony Quigley, Illegal Money Lending Team Leader, said: “We are determined to warn residents of the dangers of loan sharks and will work with partners to take action against them.
“The loan sharks are criminals who prey on the most vulnerable people in our communities. They trap their victims in a spiral of debt and often resort to intimidation and violence.
“We will not tolerate these activities in Halton and urge anyone with information about loan sharks to report them as soon as possible.
“Anyone who needs to borrow money from a safe and responsible lender should contact Halton Credit Union. The website is www.haltoncu.co.uk.
In a new report released last week, Swimming with Sharks, the Center for Social Justice (CSJ) reveals there could be up to 1.08million people indebted to loan sharks in England, with some moneylenders demanding favors sex as repayment to borrowers.
Pay attention to these warning signs when dealing with loan sharks:
• Not giving you any documents or loan agreement
• Refuse to give you information about the loan
• Keep items until the debt is paid, such as your bank card or 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
A new pixel art installation of stained glass is helping to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens.
The project was a collaboration between Digital Arts Box CIC, the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and Cheshire Constabulary.
The artists worked with young people from Runcorn Primary Schools to create the unique pixel artwork to raise awareness of illegal money lending and spotting the warning signs.
The completed work spans nine floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows in the atrium of Norton Priory’s main building.
Seven windows showcase over 230 individual works of art created by Halton youth and professional graphic designers.
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.
Illegal Money Lending teams in England, Scotland and Wales work alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to investigate those operating in the consumer credit market without the proper authorisation.
The Illegal Money Lending teams in England and Wales work in partnership with the local trading standards authorities in their respective countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activities and LIAISE officers who support victims and educate them about the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.