ILLEGAL money lenders have been arrested in Swindon following a joint operation carried out on Wednesday morning.
Three men have now been arrested after two warrants were executed by Wiltshire Police, one in Swindon and another in Trowbridge.
One of the men was a 39-year-old from Swindon.
The operation was the result of work carried out by a number of partner agencies, including the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Swindon Council Trading Standards, and Wiltshire Council Trading Standards.
The three men who were detained by police have now been released on police bail while further inquiries are carried out.
Documents discovered within both properties which could be used as evidence of the practice of illegal lending have now been seized by police.
A spokesman for the Illegal Money Lending Team said: “Three men have been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending, following operations in Swindon and Trowbridge yesterday morning.
“The suspects have been released currently on bail after being questioned by officers from the team.
“Nationally the Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 310 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 200 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £55m worth of illegal debt and helped more than 23,000 victims.”
A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “Wiltshire Police were happy to work with the illegal money laundering team and Wiltshire Council Trading Standards to execute warrants in Swindon and Trowbridge.
“It is important that we tackle illegal money lending to prevent the criminal activity and the misery that this sort of crime can bring to those who unfortunately fall victim.”
The Illegal Money Lending Team works in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities.
They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.
The Illegal Money Lending Team are appealing for anyone who may have knowledge of the practice or have been subjected to it to contact them so they can work with the police and enforcement authorities.
The team can be contacted on the 24-hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, or alternatively be texting ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003.
They are also available at firstname.lastname@example.org or on www.facebook.com/ stoploansharksproject