A TEESSIDE mum who ended up paying an estimated £35,000 after borrowing £50 to buy school uniforms has spoken out to warn others about the dangers of using loan sharks.

Mum-of-five Becky, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, wanted to share her story to encourage other victims to come forward.

She found herself in financial hardship and borrowed £50 from someone she considered a friend to buy school uniforms for her children but ended up paying an estimated £35,000.

It led to her to attempt to take her own life after falling in debt and receiving terrifying threats from an ominous "Big Man."

Becky and her husband were both unemployed at the time, and with no access to a bank account, credit cards or able to get a loan, she felt she had no option but to accept the cash from the woman posing as her friend.

She said: "I had the £50 in 15 minutes. It seemed like easy money, but I didn't realise the dangers.

"The first time I was in arrears she added another £150 on top. So, you could borrow £50 one week, and owe £100 the next. But if you couldn't pay it would be £250 in a fortnight, £400 in three weeks.

"The most I ever owed was £1,050. She was taking hundreds a week off me, and I had to use food banks."

The loan shark would text Becky’s kids if she was late with payments and warned they would be coming to visit unless she paid up.

Her case was investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team(IMLT), with Becky and her children moved away from the loan shark and the lender now under investigation.

They have now given her an award in recognition of her bravery for speaking up.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT said: “We would like to congratulate Becky on her well-deserved award. She showed tremendous courage not only in reporting the loan shark but having the strength to tell her story to help others in a similar situation.

“We urge anyone who is suffering at the hands of unscrupulous money lenders, or anyone who has concerns that a friend or loved one may be in danger to contact us. Our officers and a range of support agencies are here to help, you are not alone.”

The IMLT has launched the Stop Loan Sharks app to make it easier for people to report loan sharks and access support services. It includes a contact form and phone number to report loan sharks, and information to help victims of illegal money lending to get support.