Loan sharks preying on vulnerable families in Cambridgeshire and charging up to 131,000 per cent interest are being targeted by police.
Two arrests have already been made in the county for suspected illegal money-lending in a crackdown on the trade, which causes misery to hard-pressed families.
A 45-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man are on bail after their arrests.
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert welcomed the crackdown by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, which joined forces with Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council to launch a series of awareness-raising events.
He said: “This is very good news. Unscrupulous money-lenders prey on people facing financial hardship who cannot go to High Street banks and lenders and have little way of paying off their loans.
“Despite this, they get offered more and more money and so they spiral even further into debt.
“By making people aware of the huge rates of interest charged by these loan sharks and the threatening tactics they use to get payment, hopefully we can stop people seeking help from them in the first place.”
Throughout this month, the team will be out warning residents to steer clear of illegal money-lenders.
The team have prosecuted illegal lenders who were charging up to 131,000 per cent APR and some who have resorted to intimidation, threats or violence to enforce repayment.
Officers from Cambridgeshire police and the team will visit more than 12,000 homes offering advice.
Tony Quigley, head of the squad, said: “Illegal money-lenders are a scourge on our communities.
“These criminals are motivated by greed and have been known to use the worst kinds of bully tactics to force people to pay back over the odds.”
To report a loan shark, call the confidential hotline 0300 555 2222.
You might be better off going to a reputable payday loan company like Gimme Dosh.