Loan Shark

Desperate Brits Turn to Albanian Loan Sharks

Alternative sources of credit are now drying up for hard pressed Brits, forcing many to turn to Albanian Loan Sharks to cover small financial emergencies.

Credit availabilities are now so tough, many people in our major towns and cities have no options left but to turn to risky unlicensed lenders to cover short-term hiccups. Local Authorities are now sounding the alarm as they are unable to deal with the number of complaints.

No Choice But To Turn to Loan Sharks

Stories of people using loan sharks in times of economic downturns is nothing new, it’s been happening since the beginning of time. Just about everyone had access to one, friends of friends would recommend them and this is how people would get by.

Loan Sharks haven’t really been a significant issue for the last 25 years, most people could get access to legitimate credit through providers like Wonga and QuickQuid, despite people often bemoaning the expensive rates offered by such services, many at least felt that they had some form of protection sourcing money this way.

Well, those days have now gone, and this is the first real economic downturn since they left the market. The only option open to a significant portion of the population now, unfortunately, is the unlicensed lending market.

What’s different this time?

This economic downturn is the first after a sizeable demographic change in our towns and cities. Communities are now harder to police and rather than face prosecution for offences, criminals can abscond back to their countries of origin. Enforcement and punishment was difficult enough when the suspect was born locally, now it is almost impossible if they were born abroad.

One of the main groups behind the rise in loan sharking are from Albania. There have been many stories about them setting up barber shops and sweet shops across the UK. These shops have now become hubs for illegal money lending operations. Anyone from any community can walk in and request a loan, if the lender knows someone who knows them, or they live nearby, they’ll often give that individual a cash loan there and then. Most of the time they’ll lend £250 cash without any checks.

Interest and Charges

We’ve heard from borrowers who have used the services from these people. The majority of them say the same thing, they are never told the interest rate upfront and are given no paperwork. When they ask about the interest, they are told not to worry about it, they’ll sort it later.

In reality, the interest rate is whatever the loan shark later says that it is. The lender will often say that the borrower didn’t repay the loan, only the interest, and that the balance is still the same as it was when it started.

Penalties for non-payment

Borrowing from a UK born loan shark is bad enough, but Albanian’s are on a different level. Threats of violence from people who aren’t even officially in the country are extremely scary, and most of those facing those types of threats will do anything to get the money together to make the repayment. If this includes committing crimes like shoplifting, that’s what they will do. The downward spiral into crime is rapid and frightening for people in debt to Albanian Loan Sharks.

Authorities Are Unable to Respond

For all the adverts you see on TV and the internet about reporting loan sharks, authorities are struggling.

One individual known as Martin works for a Local Authority in North West England and he said: “We are only able to investigate if we have received more than 20 complaints, but even then, they rarely result in charges, and even rarer will they result in prosecutions, and it’s pretty much unheard of that anyone will be punished. The system enforcement is now close to collapse. It’s becoming like the drug wars; unwinnable, everyone is doing it.

We investigate individuals, it takes us weeks if not months, we go to arrest them and the next thing we know they have been given bail and flea. The Albanian’s often wait as long as they can, then head back to Albania. Once there, our hands are tied, nobody is being extradited for unlicensed lending.

As for the money that people owe to them, the debt book is handed to the next individual and they continue to enforce the debts until we catch up with them 3 months later and the whole merry-go-round starts again.”.

How To End Loan Sharking

As Martin says, the war may already be lost. People need to stop borrowing, but that is also like asking people to stop feeding themselves. The cost of living is putting people in a catch 22 situation, whichever way they turn they hit a brick wall.

No bail for loan sharks would be a good first step, then stop them escaping overseas and make punishments a real deterrent again.

Finally, beg for the likes of Wonga to return. 

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