Our Trading Standards team were involved in the operation which led to two arrests.
Two women were arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering following an operation in Kent.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Medway Council Trading Standards and Kent Police, executed warrants at two residential addresses in Chatham and Gillingham yesterday (29 September).
Officers seized documentation and electronic devices at the suspects’ addresses.
The women, aged 47 and 53, were taken into custody for questioning and have since been released under investigation.
'Illegal money lending will not be tolerated'
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “These are difficult times for many households and there’s a lot of pressure to make ends meet.
“People who may have lost their jobs, have outstanding debts, or are struggling to get credit through the usual means can feel like they’ve run out of options and turn to loan sharks.
"Our advice to residents in need of financial support would be to turn to a credit union rather than a loan shark who could take advantage and charge exorbitant interest rates."
“These arrests send a very clear message that illegal money lending will not be tolerated, and we will continue to work with our partners to take action to disrupt this activity.”
Support for victims of illegal money lending
The IMLT have launched a new smartphone app to make it quicker and easier for people to report loan sharks and access support services.
The Stop Loan Sharks app, which launched last week, includes a contact form and phone number to report loan sharks, as well as information to help victims of illegal money lending to get support.
It also offers users advice on the tell-tale signs that someone is a loan shark. These include offering cash loans without any paperwork, charging extortionate interest, use of benefit or bank cards as security, and threatening behaviour or violence to get money.
Protecting Medway residents from loan sharks
Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Economic Growth and Regulation, said: “Protecting the people of Medway from loan sharks is one of our priorities during these challenging times. Taking advantage of the most vulnerable people in our society at a time when they are at their most desperate and in need of help, causing even more misery, fear and heartache is despicable and we are pleased to be working with the IMLT to stamp this illegal practice out and we will continue to do so.
“Anyone needing financial support at the moment is advised to contact the IMLT for advice, guidance and support and I’d strongly advise local residents to download the new Stop Loan Sharks app to protect themselves in future.”
Advice for residents
Medway Credit Union provides a safe and legal alternative to loan sharks and gives residents access to affordable loans and secure savings. For more information call 01634 403335 or visit Medway Credit Union's website.
Anyone who believes they might be the victim of a loan shark can contact the 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222 or complete an online report form. Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.
The Stop Loan Sharks app is free to download on both iOS and Android devices from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.