A man has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering, with authorities warning against the dangers of loan sharks in the cost-of-living crisis.

Officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), working with Cleveland Police, executed search warrants at a residential address in Stockton-on-Tees today (May 10).

Electronic devices and a quantity of cash were seized during the operation.

Read more: Angela Rayner says Labour can deliver for Red Wall constituencies

A 23-year-old man was taken into custody and is currently being interviewed by IMLT investigators.

Meanwhile, another warrant was executed at a residential address in Middlesbrough on the same day, where a 21-year-old man was taken into custody and is currently being interviewed by IMLT investigators.

An electronic device was seized during a search of the property.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said the police were "committed to working with our partners to clamp down on illegal lenders and their exploitative practices".

Read more: 'Very well-known pop star' looks at buying Towton Hall near York

Quigley said that the team was "deeply concerned" that those already struggling were at risk from predatory lenders.

He added: “At a time when families are under extreme pressure with mounting living costs, we are deeply concerned that those who are already struggling to make ends meet could be targeted by these predatory lenders.

“If you think you may have been targeted by a loan shark or if you are worried about someone close to you, our helpline is available 24 hours a day on 0300 555 2222 for confidential advice and support.”

The IMLT works with Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council and Middlesbrough Council Trading Standards to investigate and prosecute illegal money lenders.

Read next:

​​​​​​​​​​If you want to read more stories, why not subscribe to your Northern Echo for more quality journalism. Click here.

A report by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that 1.08 million people may currently owe money to loan sharks, with some lenders demanding sexual favours as repayment.

They said warning signs showing a loan shark may be involved includes no paperwork for a loan agreement, intimidation and threats, taking items until the debt is paid, and removing items if payment is not on time.

Borrowers can obtain advice by using the Stop Loan Sharks 24 Hour Helpline on 0300 555 2222 or via a confidential live chat service here.