Don't fall victim to loan sharks is the message ahead of Friday's awareness event in Wisbech Market Place

PUBLISHED: 10:31 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 22 February 2018

Illegal Money Lending Team mascot Sid the Shark will be at Wisbech Market Place this Friday

Illegal Money Lending Team mascot Sid the Shark will be at Wisbech Market Place this Friday

Archant

An awareness drive which aims to bite back against loan sharks and help vulnerable victims is being launched in Wisbech on Friday.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has teamed up with Wisbech Town Council, Fenland District Council and Rainbow Saver Credit Union to organise a loan shark awareness event at Wisbech Market Place from 9.30am to 2pm.

Officers will be on hand to speak to local residents about illegal money lending and promote the help available to victims.

Information leaflets will be handed to shoppers with contact details for the IMLT if residents need to contact the team for advice and support with loan sharks. Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks target some of the most vulnerable people in society and operate in deprived communities.

“It’s vital we work with local councils to tackle this crime and promote credit unions as they provide a safe and affordable alternative to these illegal money lenders.

“We encourage residents to come and talk to us at Friday’s event if they have concerns about an illegal money lender in their area.

“Victims can call our 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 to report a loan shark or visit www.stoploansharks.uk for more information.”

Fenland District Councillors Michael and Virginia Bucknor, who volunteer with the credit union, said they are “pleased to support the work of the IMLT” and encourage those in financial difficulties to visit Rainbow Saver Credit Union at the Oasis Community Centre any Thursday between 12 and 2pm.

In January, Rainbow Saver Credit Union launched an incentive which awards savers with loan sharks’ cash once they have saved for three months.

The first 50 new members to join the credit union and save £5 per month for three months will be awarded with a £25 bonus.

For more information on how to become a member of Rainbow Saver Credit Union, call 01733 686483 or visit http://www.rainbowsaver.co.uk/.

Councillor David Oliver, portfolio holder for community safety at Fenland District Council, said: “It is important that residents are made aware of the dangers of illegal money lenders, particularly at this time of year when money is often tight.

“These unpleasant individuals spell nothing but misery for those who borrow money from them so it’s vital, as a community, that we all remain vigilant to this activity.”

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 329 years’ worth of custodial sentences.

They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 people.

To report a loan shark call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116, visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk or email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

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