News item

Victim of loan shark for 17 years receives Hero Award

Suffolk family man ‘Mike’ was just 17 when he borrowed £250 to buy a car from someone he thought was a friend. The “friend” turned out to be an illegal money lender.

Over the next 17 years ‘Mike’ paid back an estimated £90,000 pounds, suffered a heart attack because of the stress and tried to commit suicide. He lost his house, his job and very nearly his family. The illegal money lender even attacked him in front of his children.

‘Mike’ was at his wit’s end, but it was when his wife and children became the subject of the illegal money lender’s threats that he thought: “That was the final straw.” He reported the loan shark to the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) based at Birmingham City Council Trading Standards. IMLT prosecuted and the money lender went to jail.

Today (Tues 26 June)  ‘Mike’ is receiving national recognition with a Trading Standards Institute’s (TSI) Hero Award at TSI’s Conference in Manchester.

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “It took all of Mike’s courage for him to come forward and report the lender. This was a massive help to the England Illegal Money Lending Team.

“Mike’ has done everything he can to warn other people about the perils of borrowing from illegal money lenders.”

‘Mike’ has been an ambassador for the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and has documented his experience in a powerful and emotive film on Youtube:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YqeJgE_PUQ

In the film, ‘Mike’ said: “I was always stressed. I was doing two jobs just to get the money to pay him. Everything was as a result of the loan shark – it wasn’t a life. When I was retired due to ill-health, I was given a lump sum of £8,000 – I gave him the majority of it, but I still owed him £90,000!

“I’m really glad I reported the loan shark – I should have done it 15 years ago. When he was imprisoned for it I knew it was all over.”

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (Part of the Stop Loan Sharks project) is funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and works in partnership with local Trading Standards offices.

Mike added: “The Stop Loan Sharks team gave me confidence and I started to get my life back on track. Now we are doing things as a family: we have been on holiday and are doing things we’ve never done before.

“People need to call the England Illegal Money Lending Team if they’ve borrowed from a loan shark – the loan sharks are the ones who are going to get into trouble for it. Your life will be so much better if you stand up to them.”
 
Tony Quigley said: “This film has been shown by IMLT officers all over the country to raise awareness of the effects of illegal money lending on victims and their families. It has been shown to frontline staff inspiring them and their organisations to join the campaign to stop illegal money lenders. It has also been shown to communities at risk of illegal money lending as part of a preventative education programme.”

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute, said: “The Trading Standards Institute’s Hero Award is an annual scheme that celebrates outstanding local contributions to consumer protection and the protection of individuals.
“We look for individuals or groups who have gone over and beyond the call of duty to help support and protect other consumers. 
“The Hero Awards have been running since 2005 and the nominations we receive are truly inspiring - the awards ceremony is always a Conference highlight.”

The illegal money lender pleaded guilty to one charge of illegal money lending and two charges of money-laundering. He received an eight-month custodial sentence (in October 2009).

DATE: 26 June 2016 

END
Notes for Editors:

The awards ceremony is at Manchester Central on Tuesday 26 June at 12.15pm.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team is based at Birmingham City Council Trading Standards but covers and investigates illegal money lenders across the whole of England.

The Stop Loan Sharks project is funded by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and works in partnership with local Trading Standards offices. The project has so far secured more than 210 prosecutions for illegal money lending. Loan sharking is a criminal offence. Illegal money lenders operate without a licence, often targeting vulnerable people.

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
         Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks

For further information, to attend the ceremony or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815 or by e-mail on irjah@tsi.org.uk

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.

TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.

The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2012
The Trading Standards Institute’s annual trading standards and consumer affairs Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe. The 2012 Conference is at Manchester Central from Tuesday 26 June to Thursday 28 June.

Some 1,500 people are expected to attend the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations.

Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend but should contact the press office on 0845 608 9430 to arrange passes.