OFFICIALS who investigated Joaquim Lara Alves Boal are warning other loan sharks they will be caught.
He was brought to justice in a joint probe by trading standards officials at Hartlepool Borough Council, Cleveland Police and the England Illegal Money Lending Team.
Ian Harrison, Hartlepool trading standards and licensing manager, said: “This case will hopefully serve as reminder to any loan sharks out there that we are watching you and unscrupulous activity will simply not be tolerated.
“The council works very closely with the Illegal Money Lending Team and the police to stamp out these practices and we will not hesitate in taking action via the courts when we feel it is justified.
“We would also urge anyone with money difficulties or requiring money advice to contact organisations such as West View Advice and Resource Centre who can provide free, professional advice and support.”
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Illegal money lenders are a scourge on our communities, making life a misery for their victims.
“They exploit the most vulnerable members and exhibit pure greed.
“We are continuing to crack down on this crime, and as this case exemplifies bring offenders to justice through the courts.
“If you have been the victim of a loan shark or know of someone who has please speak to us, in the strictest confidence.
“Lines are open 24/7 and are answered by a trained investigator.”
Nationally, the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured more than 310 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, totalling nearly 200 years in jail terms.
They have helped release victims from £55 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 24,000 victims.
Who to call:
• West View Advice and Resource Centre (01429) 271294
• England Illegal Money Lending Team hotline 0300 5552222
• Hartlepool Credit Union (01429) 863542