An Exeter loan shark is waiting to be sentenced after admitting running an illegal money lending business over a period of nearly six years.
Robert Ferguson, aged 61, of Exe Street, appeared at Exeter Crown Court on Monday, October 19 and pleaded guilty to running the illegal business from his home city home since April 2014.
Ferguson was arrested when officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – working in partnership with Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards and Devon and Cornwall Police – executed a warrant at his Exe Street home, off Bonhay Road, and seized documentary evidence in January this year.
He will be sentenced on November 4 at Exeter Crown Court.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, urged anyone aware of any illegal money lending activity to get in touch in confidence.
He said: “We are committed to doing everything possible to eradicate loan sharks in Devon.
“Perpetrators need to realise that this kind of activity will not be tolerated and by working with our partners we will do everything in our power to ensure those involved are brought to justice.”
The IMLT has launched a new smartphone app to make it quicker and easier for people to report loan sharks and access support services.
The Stop Loan Sharks app includes a contact form and phone number to report loan sharks, as well as information to help victims of illegal money lending to get support.
It also offers users advice on the tell-tale signs that someone is a loan shark. These include offering cash loans without any paperwork, charging extortionate interest, taking benefit or bank cards as security, and use of threatening behaviour or violence to get money repaid.
The IMLT said it has secured more than 400 successful prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, resulting in a total of 586 years of jail time.
The team has written off £83 million worth of illegal debt and helped more than 30,000 people.
Anyone needing support can get in touch via the Stop Loan Sharks Live Chat, here, or by calling the 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222.
The Stop Loan Sharks app is free to download on both iOS and Android devices from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Report illegal money lending to the IMLT on 0300 555 2222. Lines are open 24/7 and callers can remain anonymous.[asp_product id=”17531″]