An Exeter man has admitted running an illegal money lending business over a period of nearly six years.
Robert Ferguson, aged 61, appeared at Exeter Crown Court on October 19 and pleaded guilty to running the illegal business from his home in Exe Street, Exeter since April 2014.
Ferguson was arrested when officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), working in partnership with Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards and Devon and Cornwall Police, executed a warrant at his home and seized documentary evidence in January this year.
He will be sentenced on November 4 at Exeter Crown Court.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said:
“We are committed to doing everything possible to eradicate loan sharks in Devon.“Perpetrators need to realise that this kind of activity will not be tolerated and by working with our partners we will do everything in our power to ensure those involved are brought to justice.
“We would urge anyone aware of any illegal money lending activity to call us in confidence on 0300 555 2222 so we can take action. Our lines are open 24/7 and callers can remain anonymous”
The 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 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 benefit or bank cards as security, and threatening behaviour or violence to get money.
The IMLT 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.
Anyone needing support can get in touch via the Stop Loan Sharks Live Chat at www.stoploansharks.co.uk or by calling the 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222.