A Wirral man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) worked in partnership with Merseyside Police to execute a warrant at an address in New Ferry on Wednesday (March 13).

The 59-year-old suspect, who has not been named by the IMLT or police, was questioned by IMLT investigators and later released under investigation pending further inquiries.

The IMLT works in partnership with Wirral Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “Illegal money lenders target some of the most vulnerable in society and we will not tolerate them taking advantage of people like this.

“We realise it may be difficult for people to come forward if they have borrowed from an illegal lender - they may feel afraid or scared of repercussions.

"We want to assure people that we will do whatever we can to protect them and take action against these criminals.

"If anyone thinks they have been targeted by an illegal lender, our team are on hand 24 hours a day to offer specialist help and support."

There are up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England, according to figures from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

The warning signs of an illegal lender include:

  • Being given no paperwork or agreement on a loan
  • Refusing to give you information about the loan
  • Keeping items until the debt is paid such as your bank card or passport
  • Taking things from you if you don't pay on time
  • Adding more interest or charges so the debt never goes down
  • Using intimidation or violence if you don't pay

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IMLT. Since its launch, it has supported over 31,500 people and written off over £91.2 million worth of illegal debt, securing over 416 prosecutions for illegal money lending, leading to 598 years in jail.

Anyone who has been affected by illegal money lending should call the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk.

Live Chat is available on the website from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.