PEOPLE who have fallen victim to loan sharks are being asked to help police put a stop to the moneylenders’ illegal activities.
Police say unlicensed moneylenders are taking advantage of the current economic climate to prey on vulnerable people, sucking them into a spiral of debt from which they find it hard to escape.
In recent months, police have been made aware of a problem in the Easington area and officers are working with partner agencies to tackle it.
Officers say one lender borrowed £100 and was subject to extortionate interest that saw the loan rise to £600.
Police say loansharks can also be involved in organised crime and they have appealed for victims to come forward.
Sergeant Ian Dickinson, of Peterlee Police, said: “We’re talking about unlicensed money lenders who target people in less affluent areas, like some parts of east Durham.
“They lend money at extortionate rates of interest which people can never pay off. They have to go on borrowing more money. In one recent example, someone borrowed £100 and within a short time found they owed £600. It’s a vicious circle as loan sharks often use aggressive tactics to exact their repayments.
“Many loan sharks are also involved in organised crime, using the hard-earned money of vulnerable people to finance other illegal activities.”
Police are encouraging anyone from east Durham who has been a victim of a loan shark or suspects they may be operating in the area to contact them so that evidence can be gathered to put a stop to their activities.
Police say calls will be treated in strictest confidence.
Sgt Dickinson said: “We understand people may be reluctant to come forward, but this is their chance to help us bring criminals to justice.”
Anyone with information can contact Durham Constabulary on 0345 6060365 and ask for the Peterlee beat team or emailing email@example.com
Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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