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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Money seized from Cumbrian loan shark to help credit union

Money seized from a west Cumbrian loan shark will boost the savings of people who join a credit union this week.

Paul Gilpin photo
Paul Richard Gilpin

Paul Gilpin, 39, of Thorny Road, Thornhill, Egremont, was ordered to repay £50,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act following his conviction for illegal money lending last year.

And the money paid back by Gilpin, who earned £100 a week from his business which he ran for eight years, is helping fund a special action week by Trading Standards.

The week has been launched to combat money worries as Christmas approaches and comes after Cumbria County Council identified as areas of most at risk of falling prey to loan sharks as Sandwith in Whitehaven, Moss Bay and Moorclose in Workington, Ewanrigg in Maryport and Upperby, Carlisle.

The typical loan-shark victim is female, aged between 30 and 40 and living in social housing.

The week of action, which starts today, will see the first 50 people to join Carlisle and District Credit Union will have £5 deposited in their account to get their savings off to a flying start and will not have to pay the usual £1 joining fee.

They get a further £10 top up if they save regularly for eight weeks.

Mandy Johnston, development worker at the credit union, said: “The timing of this couldn’t be better.

“With Christmas coming up, we would much rather people came to us for a loan rather than turning to a pay-day lender or, worse still, an illegal loan shark.”

Carlisle and District Credit Union, which has offices in Lowther Street, was set up in 2004 as an ethical alternative to doorstep lenders and loan sharks.

It offers competitive loans and interest on savings, and has more than 2,000 members and a £500,000 loan book.

Cumbria’s Trading Standards department and the England Illegal Money Lending Team are behind the week of action.

People are invited to drop into advice sessions to find out about loan-shark activities and get details of how to join the credit union.

These are at Petteril Bank Community Centre from 3-5pm on Tuesday, Currock House, 3.45-5.30pm on Wednesday, and Harraby Community Centre, 3-5pm on Friday.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team’s mascot, Sid the Shark, will be in the city centre on Thursday to promote the week of action.

There will be lessons in loan-shark awareness for year-six pupils at Inglewood Junior School and a workshop for junior-club members at Carlisle Youth Zone.

Angela Jones, Trading Standards service manager, said: “The week of action aims to put illegal loan sharks in the spotlight and help prevent the hard-pressed in our communities falling victim.

“This sends a clear message that illegal money lending will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”

Nationally, trading standards officers estimate, 310,000 people borrow a total of £120m each year from unlicensed lenders. Repayments total £450 million.

For details about the advice sessions, call 01228 221660.

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