Two suspected loan sharks have been arrested in County Durham.
A 28-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man were arrested this morning on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering.
The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Durham County Council Trading Standards and Durham Constabulary, executed warrants at two homes in Belmont and Wheatley Hill, seizing documentation, electronic devices and a quantity of cash.
The suspects are currently in custody and are being questioned by officers from the IMLT.
Tony Quigley, Head of the 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 you are receiving threats over a loan you have already paid off, we urge you to get in touch on 0300 555 2222. Your call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”
Coun Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Local Partnerships, said: "Loan sharks target some of the most vulnerable people in our county and so it’s vitally important we remove illegal money lending from our communities.
“I hope the success of this operation sends a clear message to loan sharks that operating as an illegal money lender in County Durham will not be tolerated.”
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 £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,500 people.
To report a loan shark: call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116, visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a private message on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject.