Loan sharks and social media risk in South Yorkshire

22nd July 2021

Not knowing which lenders are ethical, safe and properly regulated can become a serious risk – especially since social media platforms are not protecting us sufficiently from illegal and high cost lenders being easily available.

In July 2021, the Stop Loan Sharks team reported on a loan shark who had been paying a Snapchat influencer to promote illegal loans, and threatening those who borrowed as a result.  The loan shark has been jailed.

The loan shark charged almost 100 on loans, and used social media to threaten the borrowers if they missed repayments.  The Doncaster man offered “short-term, high-interest loans to 130 borrowers through Snapchat over a 22-month period in an “organised, sophisticated and profitable illegal business.”” (Simon Mortimer, Prosecuting).  One of these borrowers, a single mother of two, was attacked in the street as a result of an unpaid debt and had to move areas to escape the threats. The loan shark was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court to 16 months imprisonment.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) published statistics that showed that one in ten people affected by illegal lending meets their lender through social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook, or through dating platforms.

The ease of posting on social media poses an ever-growing threat, particularly where young and vulnerable people may find it difficult to judge how safe a lender is, or where an individual does not want to discuss their need for credit with others, making it even harder for them to know if a lender is safe or not.  

Credit Unions are worldwide savings and loans organisations, who are highly regulated, not-for-profit and known best for their ability to assist individuals who need credit, but at the same time, help them to build savings and increase their financial resilience.  Directing anybody who potentially needs a loan to a local credit union may prevent them from becoming a victim of a high-cost lender or loan shark, and may help them longer term with their financial wellbeing.

Sheffield Credit Union serves the whole of South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire.  For other local credit unions, the weblink can help locate the nearest or most suitable credit union.  

Many credit unions, including Sheffield Credit Union, offer payroll deduction schemes for savings and loans through local employers.  With a trusted lender and savings provider already linked to work, employers a reducing the chance that their employees will go to an unverified lender advertising on social media or via a social media influencer.  Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Sheffield City Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Sheffield Health and Social Care (SHSC), Mears Group and Engie are 6 of the largest employer partners who offer these schemes to their employees through Sheffield Credit Union.  If your employer/company is not listed as a partner, and you think this could be suitable for you, please contact Sheffield Credit Union on to discuss further.  It is easy and free for employers to operate.

For full details of the news story featured, please go to

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