The victim of a loan shark has spoken of how a man who posed as a “father figure” during a difficult time in his life went on to fleece him of more than £60,000 over five years.
After the death of his father and his mother being diagnosed with dementia, the West Yorkshire man – who spoke to The Yorkshire Post anonymously – was approached by a “Jekyll and Hyde” character during a vulnerable period in which he was a “full-blown alcoholic”.
The man, who is now sober, hopes to raise awareness of loan sharks after being helped by England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), while an investigation is under way.
After becoming a carer for his mother, the man needed time away and went to his local bookmakers to play on fixed-odds betting machines before “getting carried away with that sort of gambling”.
He said: “This character that I met offered to lend me money. I got into a pattern of borrowing money and then paying it back a few days later with an eye-watering interest rate.
“He came across as being a bit of a father figure. He was very sympathetic towards my plight of my dad dying and having a sick mother. He came across as like a kind uncle.
“Unfortunately during that time I had a serious drink problem. I was basically a full-blown alcoholic at the time and on medications which [didn’t mix well].”
The victim, a businessman, had also accumulated debts after trying to set up a new firm and was offered a director’s loan.
He mentioned this in passing to the loan shark, who later demanded £6,000.
The victim said: “After that £6,000 was paid to him, he said to me that in my drunken state I had borrowed more money than I had realised, and I came up with a payment plan.”
Around £50,000 was paid electronically and £12,000 in cash over the years.
The victim was paying him around £700 a month – and using a food bank to survive – but the “aggressive” loan shark still visited him weekly.
After paying the loan shark the £6,000, the victim had come clean to his family, but having agreed to pay him more, continued in secret with money transfers to “keep him quiet” and prevent another “scandal”.
He said: “Loan sharks are good psychologists, because they understand psychology, how it works, and the dynamics of relationships.”
After getting sober, the victim approached the IMLT because he had seen its work on a television documentary.
People who fear they are having trouble with a loan shark can call the IMLT hotline number on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.uk.