A woman has been arrested in Hartlepool today on suspicion of being a loan shark.
The 40 year-old woman was arrested this morning on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering, following an operation in the town.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards Department and Cleveland Police executed warrants at two residential addresses, seizing documentation and electronic devices.
The suspect is currently in custody and is being questioned by officers from the IMLT.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We will continue to work with local authorities and the police to combat loan sharks. These criminals cause untold misery amongst our local communities.
“If you’ve been issued a loan with no paperwork or are receiving threats over a loan you have already paid off, please get in touch with IMLT on 0300 555 2222. Your call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”
Ian Harrison, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards and Licensing Manager, said: “Loan sharks prey on the poorest and weakest in society – targeting the vulnerable and those least able to help themselves.
"Loan sharks are unlicensed and usually charge extremely high interest rates in ways designed to ensure a loan is never fully paid off. This generates more and more money for these criminals and more and more misery for the victims affected.
"Hartlepool’s Trading Standards Team will continue to work with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to ensure loan sharks operating in Hartlepool are identified and brought to justice.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences.
They have written off £72.5million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,000 people.
To report a loan shark: Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116, visit the website at www.stoploansharks.co.uk or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.