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CONSUMER watchdogs across the Midlands are joining forces in a bid to encourage men to speak out against loan sharks.

Events in Coventry and Warwickshire will be staged as part of a campaign aimed at fighting crooks who loan cash to their victims at extortionate interest rates.

The events will run from Monday until June 16 during national Men's Health Week and have been organised by both the England Illegal Money Lending Team and Central England Trading Standards Authorities. Tony Quigley, head of the team, said just 36 per cent of male victims of loan sharks are willing to give statements about the crime, compared to 52 per cent of female victims.

"Illegal money lending can have a horrific impact on the life and well being of borrowers," he said. "People are left penniless and in fear of the loan sharks.

"We'd urge people not to suffer in silence, but to report the crime to us so we can take action."

Jim Pollard, of the Men's Health Forum, urged people to attend the events.

"Illegal money lending may not sound like a health issue but it is - and a serious one," he added.

"If you don't have a health problem before you see a loan shark, you will afterwards.

"The terrible mental stress and outrageous interest rates they impose have provoked suicides, suicide attempts and heart attacks - to say nothing of the more obvious physical dangers that getting involved with loan sharks entails."

During the week, trading standards officers and licensing chiefs at Warwickshire County Council will be talking to private hire drivers - a group particularly targeted by loan sharks because they don't have access to a regular income.

And both Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council will run money management workshops throughout the week for servicemen.

Mr Quigley added: "Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities.

"We would urge anyone who has been a victim to tell us."

To report a loan shark, call the 24-hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, text "loan shark" and your message to 60003, email, or send a private message at sproject.


SHARK HUNT: Tony Quigley, here with the payment book of a convicted loan shark, has urged victims not to suffer in silence.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 8, 2013
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