News item

Confiscated loan shark cash awarded to three Tower of Hamlets projects

Loan shark mascot with winner

 The England Illegal Money Lending Team, work in partnership with Tower Hamlets Council to investigate and prosecute loan sharks. They provided the ill-gotten gains taken from illegal lenders to local communities, with residents deciding which projects which raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks would receive the funding. 

Local Jobs Local People at Bromley By Bow Centre were voted as the overall winners, receiving £1600. They will use the funding to promote financial literacy, money management and the dangers of loan sharks to young people. They will also set up careers advice and job employment workshops.

Neighbours in Poplar –the charity received £500 to host money management workshops targeted at local Asian and Somali communities.

Poplar Harca – the housing association received £500 to host door knocking exercises and money management workshops encouraging community members to report crime, anti-social behaviour and illegal money lending activity.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said: “It is pleasing to see that money gained through disreputable means is being put to good use here in Tower Hamlets. As a council we work extremely hard to protect our residents from loan sharks and others who target people in poverty. I want this example to send a clear message to loan sharks that we will do all we can to confiscate your money and put it to valuable use in the local community.”

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “The scheme was hugely positive with the extorted cash being put to excellent use. Thanks to everyone who attended or entered a bid- you have contributed to making a difference and tackling this crime in your community. Loan sharks are a scourge on society and cause harm and misery to their victims, but we are continuing to tackle them in Tower Hamlets and across the country. We would always urge victims of illegal money lenders to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222”

Nationally the Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 309 prosecutions leading to 195 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £42 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 23,000 victims.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 

Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003 

E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk 

Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

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For more information contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119 or email sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430 or pressoffice@tsi.org.uk.

Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards. 

NTSB provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.

The Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams in England, Scotland and Wales.  The NTSB has responsibility for the England and Wales Illegal Money Lending Teams that are hosted by Birmingham City Council and Cardiff Council. There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland. 

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 309 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 195 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £42 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 23,000 people.

The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders. 

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DATE: 18 March 2014