Police have arrested a suspected loan shark following a raid at a Sunderland home.
Officers seized cash, documents and electronic devices after executing a warrant at a property in Hendon on Tuesday morning.
A 51-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering. He remains in custody.
It follows a joint operation by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Sunderland City Council Trading Standards and Northumbria Police.
Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said “We will continue to work closely with our partners to protect communities and families from the devastation of loan sharks.
According to the leader of Sunderland City Council, Coun Graeme Miller, it is estimated that over £12m leaks out of Sunderland’s economy every year in extra interest payments to high cost lenders, rent to own stores and payday lenders.
“Most people at some point in their lives need access to credit and many more may now be feeling the pinch financially because of Covid,” he added.
“This city council wants to see affordable options because nobody should be having to resort to illegal lending and extortionate rates.
“Tackling financial exclusion and reducing poverty includes creating better credit and debit solutions. As with many other local authorities across our region, we are actively promoting the Moneywise credit union.
“Sunderland is a co-operative council and credit unions are co-operative solutions helping to create a financial community where members of the union mutually benefit because there’s no profit for shareholders.
“Credit unions are for everyone, not just the poor, and a good credit union with a mixed economy of customers can be very useful for those who cannot get access to ordinary bank products. People should not have to go to money lenders.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams 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.