Dad's haunting story of borrowing money from loan shark who made his life a misery
A father has shared his emotional experience of borrowing money from loan sharks during the Christmas period.
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Anthony, 39, from the West Midlands, was shocked to find that he was the target of a loan shark, who he thought was a family friend when money ran short.
The father of four had borrowed over £10,000 in small illegal loans from someone he thought was a friend of the family and a legitimate lender, to help him give his children the Christmas they deserve.
However, following an investigation by the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), Anthony was horrified to find that he had become the target of a loan shark who had been profiting from his family.
Anthony, who is using an assumed name to protect his identity, said: "I was absolutely fuming. I am so angry that he was effectively profiting from our misfortune. He had taken money from my kids to fund his own life.
"The interest was just horrific. I had to pay back £60 or £70 on top of every £100 I borrowed. Over the years I have borrowed over £10,000, so that’s a lot of profit he has made from me - thousands and thousands of pounds."
Anthony said that Christmas was often the time when he needed to borrow the most, saying that the loan sharks knew exactly when to turn up.
Anthony continued: "The first loan was £500 and I paid that off, but there is always something that comes up, especially when you have got kids.
"Christmas was the biggest one, we had two or three loans, maybe even more over the Christmas period. You want your kids to have a good life and you want to be able to have a decent Christmas and make memories with them."
Anthony believed the lender was legitimate, but knew something was amiss when he was struggling to repay and was suddenly faced with threats of intimidation and violence.
That included the lender turning up to his home when he was out and making inappropriate sexual comments towards his wife and daughter who was only 14 at the time.
Anthony continued: "He really put the pressure on – turning up at my house when my wife was home alone and saying sleazy comments to her like suggesting there were other ways to pay. It got really tough."
It was only when officers from the IMLT's intervention team paid him a visit that he knew the truth.
The father of four said: "Hindsight is a wonderful thing, maybe I should have noticed the signs when he just scribbled it down on a piece of paper, but it was just so easy at the time.
"It angers me because I have been made to feel like a fool. I have funded someone else’s life and to find out afterwards there were so many other people he was making money off – it just makes me so angry."
"We have been without him for months now and I don’t miss it at all – things have come up but now we just do without if we can’t afford it. We’re a lot happier now we’re not borrowing from him anymore."
The loan shark is now behind bars following the IMLT investigation and Anthony and his family are looking forward to enjoying Christmas without worrying about an unwelcome visit.
Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: "Christmas is always a testing time when it comes to family finances, but there are safer ways to borrow money if that is needed.
"If you have been targeted in this way, get in touch with our specialist team in confidence for advice and support."
If you have been affected by illegal money lending get in touch with Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or access support online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk