TWO people have been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending in County Durham.

The 28-year-old woman and 32-year-old man were also arrested on suspicion of money laundering following operations in Belmont, near Durham, and Wheatley Hill, in east Durham.

Documents, electronic devices and cash were seized from two homes.

The suspects are currently in custody and are being questioned by officers from the Illegal Money Laundering Team (IMLT), which was working with Durham County Council’s trading standards and Durham Police.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “We will continue to work with local authorities and the police to combat loan sharks. These criminals cause untold misery amongst our local communities.

“If you’ve been issued a loan with no paperwork or you are receiving threats over a loan you have already paid off, we urge you to get in touch on 0300 555 2222. Your call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

Councillor Brian Stephens, the council’s member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “Loan sharks target some of the most vulnerable people in our county and so it’s vitally important we remove illegal money lending from our communities.

“I hope the success of this operation sends a clear message to loan sharks that operating as an illegal money lender in County Durham will not be tolerated.”