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Cardiff Council

Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU)

The Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU) targets illegal money lenders, more commonly known as loan sharks. The unit looks into illegal lending and any related crimes as well as supporting victims. The perpetrators range from small time loan sharks to violent and organized criminals.


We are one of three national teams (England, Scotland and Wales) and are funded by the National Trading Standards Board and we work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities.


The team is made up of specialist investigators and victim support officers from a variety of backgrounds including trading standards, ex-police officers and debt advice.


Illegal lending (loan sharking) is a criminal offence. Illegal money lenders operate without a license, often targeting vulnerable people.


  • Most loan sharks start out friendly, but their behaviour changes when payments are missed.
  • Few loan sharks advertise, and are often heard of by word of mouth.
  • Most loan sharks offer little or no paperwork.
  • Quite often take cash cards/post office cards and pin numbers as collateral for loans.



Report illegal money lending (loan sharks)


“We had to sell many of our possessions including our marital home and this was one of the worst days of my life….night times were terrifying for me…I was afraid  they would come around and attack us in the night…” Family of Three (Cardiff)


If you are a loan shark victim, or think there may be a loan shark operating in your area, contact the WIMLU on the 24 hour hotline 0300 123 3311 (all calls are completely confidential) or contact us online.


  • Absolutely anyone can phone in with Loan Shark information – a victim, advice worker, local resident, police officer, neighbour...
  • Any information provided would be in the strictest of confidence and will not be used in the Courts.
  • Callers don’t have to give their name and can remain anonymous.



Support for victims of illegal money lending


"I didn't have enough, I couldn't eat properly, couldn't clothe my children properly. If I couldn't pay, they threatened to beat me up in front of my children” (Single Mother Swansea)


Specialist officers are on hand to support and assist victims and advise on debt and other problems.


It is important to know that borrowing from an unlicensed lender is not an offence.  The offence will have been committed by the lender. WIMLU will not take action against any individual who has borrowed money but will offer support to help you manage your money. 




Training for staff

WIMLU also provide free training to front line support staff in recognizing loan shark activity and signs that clients exhibit when they are a victim.  The training is aimed at Council, Housing Association and advice organisation staff/volunteers. 

Sessions are normally between an hour and an hour and a half depending on questions and are free of charge. We can do shorter sessions depending on the time constraints for the organisation involved. Sessions are aimed at any front line staff who will have contact with potential victims (who tend to be the most vulnerable in society). We are flexible in the way in which we can deliver the training in that a number of sessions over one or any number of days/weeks can be accommodated.

By the end of the training we aim for attendees: 


  • To have a greater awareness of the effects of illegal money lending on vulnerable people.
  • To be able to seek expert help and advice.
  • To learn how to identify the signs that clients can exhibit when they are a victim of a loan shark.


To contact us regarding training, please call 029 2087 1090 or make an enquiry online.





Contact us online