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Preventing victims of loan sharks
12:30pm Thursday 11th October 2012 in News
THE victim of an illegal loan shark has spoken out about his experience on the day a new initiative was launched in Worcester.
The Worcester man, who did not want to be named, said he borrowed just £200 but ended up paying back £1,200.
He was speaking at the launch of Your Choice – a partnership between the England Illegal Money Lending Team, which investigates and prosecutes loan sharks, and Worcester City Council.
During an event at the Tolly Centre in Tolladine yesterday, people voted on how they would like to see money extorted by convicted loan sharks be ploughed back into the local community.
A total of 10 successful bidders, including youth and community centres and charities, showcased their ideas to residents, who then voted for their favourite.
Each of the ideas was linked to preventing people from visiting loan sharks and to offer advice to those who may already find themselves in trouble.
A member of Worcester City Neighbourhood Watch, which received £250 to fund the purchase of personal alarms, was a victim of an illegal loan shark about 10 years ago while at college.
The man, who was registered blind, borrowed the money because he was having problems with his benefits.
He was attacked by people “doing a favour” for someone else and could not tell his family out of fear. Fortunately, his bank loaned him the money to pay off the debts.
Following his experiences, he said he would encourage people to seek professional advice.
He said: “They know more about your money than you do. They prey on the vulnerable, people who don’t have money and are desperate for it. I wouldn’t want to experience that again. I learnt the hard way.”
Sarah West, of Warndon Villages, was casting her vote at the event and said it was also a good way to prevent people from approaching pay-day loan companies, which are frequently advertised on TV, but which charge high interest rates.
Yesterday’s event was won by Warndon Youth and Community Centre, which was awarded £500 to produce and distribute water bottles featuring the hotline number for reporting loan sharks.
Youth worker Amanda Hughes said the event was a great idea.
A further seven bidders were each awarded £250. Victims of illegal money lenders can contact Illegal Money Lending Team on 0300 5552222.