Fraud Lead calls on public to speak out about illegal money lending


The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ National Fraud Lead is calling on the public to speak out about illegal money lending in a bid to crack down on opportunistic fraudsters.

The call comes after an increasing number of people are falling victim to illegal money lenders who utilise unlawful and unethical tactics to coerce people into borrowing money at extortionate interest rates.

A report published by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that 1.08million people could be borrowing money from an illegal lender, often known as a ‘loan shark’. This figure has more than trebled since 2010.

APCC National Lead for Fraud and Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Shelford, said: “As a Police and Crime Commissioner, I have been disturbed to hear about the tactics being used to deceive people into borrowing money under false pretenses.

“For many victims, the stigma associated prevents them from speaking out about what they have been through, resulting in many people being unaware of the dangers.

“We must change this. That is why I am calling on the public to have open conversations with friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances about the dangers of illegal money lending so that we can prevent others falling victim.

“The tactics utilised by these criminals are becoming increasingly more manipulative and tactful. They may appear as a friendly or overly helpful person in an informal setting such as at the school gate or local shop. They may offer to lend a very small sum of money only to later demand much more back. They also operate online with many utilising social media and dating sites and apps to prey on vulnerable people.

“Many can harass, threaten and even physically assault their victims into paying back far more than they could ever have imagined.”

The call to speak out and end the stigma comes the same week the Office of National Statistics announced that the number of fraud cases has increased by 25 per cent since 2020. It also coincides with National Stop Loan Shark Week which this year runs 26 September to 2 October.

Mark continued: “The statistics are extremely worrying, and at a time when many people may be worried about money and struggling to make ends meet, it is vital now more than ever that we raise awareness of this hidden crime that is destroying the lives of millions of people.

“As PCCs we are committed to supporting victims of crime and have invested in local projects and initiatives to ensure victims have the support and help that they need. If you are struggling with money or debt repayments, turning to illegal loan sharks is never the answer.

“I am also calling on the government to review the sentencing around those who commit illegal money lending so that we can send a clear message that this crime is never acceptable.”

Information and advice about loan sharks can be found on the Citizens Advice website - Loan sharks - Citizens Advice. You can report a loan shark here - Report a loan shark - GOV.UK (


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