Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit
The Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU) targets illegal money lenders, more commonly known as loan sharks.
We are one of three national teams (England, Scotland and Wales) and are funded by the Financial Conduct Authority. We work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities.
We investigate illegal lending and any related crimes, as well as supporting the victims of loan sharks. Loan sharks can be small time lenders who take advantage of friends or family, but sometimes they are violent and organised criminals.
The team is made up of specialist investigators and victim support officers; our priority is the safety and welfare of victims. Illegal lending (loan sharking) is a criminal offence. Illegal money lenders operate without legal authority, and often target vulnerable people.
What is a Loan Shark?
A loan shark is anybody who is lending money without the required legal authority, and is charging interest on top of the loan (in other
words, they are lending money and are expecting individuals to pay back more than they borrowed.)
Loan Sharks operate in many different ways. One of the most common types of illegal lending we have investigated is where a lender takes advantage of his/her friends and family by lending money and then demanding repayments. Other types of lenders we have investigated have included rogue landlords, rogue employers, pub bouncers lending to customers, lending among work colleagues, and even lending among members of a church group.
Things to look out for:
- Most loan sharks start out friendly, but their behaviour changes when payments are missed
- Few loan sharks advertise, and are often heard of by word of mouth
- Most loan sharks offer little or no paperwork
- Quite often take cash cards/post office cards and pin numbers as collateral for loans
You, or someone you care about, might be a victim of illegal money lending. Or you might think there is a loan shark operating in your area. You can contact WIMLU on a 24 hour hotline. All calls are completely confidential. Callers don’t have to give their name and can remain anonymous.
WIMLU provide free training to front line support workers to help them recognise loan shark activity, and the indications that clients may be victims – particularly if they are vulnerable. The training can be adapted for Council, Housing Association and advice organisation staff/volunteers.
Sessions normally last between an hour and an hour and a half and are free of charge. We can do shorter sessions if time is limited. We are flexible in the way in which we can deliver the training - for example we can offer a series of sessions over several days.
By the end of the training attendees will:
- have a greater awareness of the effects of illegal money lending on vulnerable people.
- be able to seek expert help and advice.·
- be confident in identifying the signs that clients have been targeted by loan sharks.
To contact us regarding training, please call: 029 2087 1090
Lessons about keeping our money safe
Resources for Teachers
Using money confiscated from loan sharks, we have developed a fantastic educational resource! With input from educational professionals we have produced lesson plans (including video material) for teachers to help promote financial capability and improve the money management skills of young people.
The materials contribute to a variety of curriculum areas, such as Maths, English, PSHE, Drama, Art and Design and cover all key stages. They are pfeg quality marked and also deliver many core learning objectives from the pfeg primary and secondary planning frameworks including:
For primary schools: lessons about keeping your money safe, where does money come from and the difference between need and want. It also introduces the idea of saving and looks at issues around borrowing and lending possessions and money.
For secondary schools: lessons about safer lending and borrowing that reflect key financial capability objectives around when and how to borrow, values linked with money, saving and what can go wrong if you don’t make the right choice. There are lessons on credit, shopping around to get the best credit deal and the dangers of borrowing from Loan Sharks.
Understanding Money Lending in Wales
Vale of Glamorgan Council initially commissioned Wordnerds to help them understand the landscape of money lending online in Wales , in order to:
- appreciate the scale of the problem
- educate people about what's going on
- understand what people do when they're looking for small loans
The full report from Wordnerds can be found here.