Stop Loan Sharks

Logo of Stop Loan Sharks

Who we are?

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) was set up in 2004. Initially created as a pilot scheme in Birmingham to investigate loan sharks it had such an impact on illegal money lending it received further government funding.

Today the England IMLT investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders while supporting those who have borrowed money from a loan shark. Illegal Money Lending Teams in Scotland and Wales ensure the entire UK is working to stop loan sharks.

Each team consists of specialist investigators and Liaise Officers who have previously worked for the police, trading standards, and debt advice services. Together the investigators and Liaise Officers work to prosecute illegal money lenders while supporting people who owe money to a loan shark

The England IMLT work as Stop Loan Sharks within local communities, within education, and with partner agencies including the police. Since 2004, the England IMLT have supported over 30,000 people and written off over £83 million worth of illegal debt.

It is estimated that there are 310,000 people in debt to illegal money lenders in the UK. The Illegal Money Lending Teams within the UK work to raise awareness of what illegal money is while investigating and prosecuting loan sharks.

Working with the Financial Conduct Authority

The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England, Scotland and Wales work alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to investigate those operating within the consumer credit market without the appropriate authorisation.

In 2016 the Government legislated to introduce an industry levy to fund the activity of the teams and to take action against illegal lending.  The service is governed and overseen by the FCA and HM Treasury.

Working with education and partner agencies

The England IMLT work closely with education providers and partner agencies such as the police, housing associations, and debt advice services. Investigating and prosecuting loan sharks is an important part of the England IMLT’s work and is combined with awareness raising of the problems and issues that illegal money lending causes.

The Stop Loan Sharks team have developed a range of free education resources, free partner tools, and will also deliver free in-house training for partner agencies and the police. Explore our website for more information on these resources or email Catherine Wohlers or call 07500 809339 to find out how we can help you.

App launched

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (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 today (23 September), 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 benefits or bank cards as security, and threatening behaviour or violence to get money.

The app was developed in partnership with MakoMedia and funded from cash recovered from loan sharks under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

The app also provides information to various frontline professionals who may meet loan shark victims in the course of their work: such as debt advisors, social workers and housing staff. These professionals can read information on how to recognise the signs and respond to disclosures and where to refer clients to for specialist support.

Other features include a search tool to help users find credit unions and legitimate lenders, links to confidential debt advice services and push notifications about loan shark arrests and court cases.

Users can also access case studies, experiences and real-life stories from actual victims and survivors of illegal money lending, alongside links to other media and videos.

The launch of the Stop Loan Sharks app came after the latest IMLT data revealed an increase in online reports during the first half of 2020.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “We are pleased to launch our new smartphone app and give victims of illegal money lending additional ways in which to access specialist practical and emotional support quickly, easily, discreetly, and safely.

“We know from research it takes on average three years for a victim to come forward for help after borrowing from a loan shark. Using technology will improve a victim’s access to support services at the touch of a button and make it easier for people to report incidents and find legitimate lenders.

“This app is a valuable tool and provides excellent information for partner agencies, helping them to recognise the symptoms and effects of illegal money lending when dealing with customers. Loan sharks could be having a detrimental impact financially, physically and emotionally on their clients and service users, so it’s important we work together to stamp out this callous crime and ensure victims are given the support they need.”

Anyone who needs support can get in touch via the Stop Loan Sharks App or by calling the 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222. Live Chat is available on our homepage 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

The Stop Loan Sharks app is free to download on both iOS and Android devices on the App Store and Google Play Store.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 400 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 586 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £83 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 30,000 people.