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A Staffordshire Police Investigator has won a national short story competition by writing about her experiences of dealing with loan sharks.
Maria Perruzza, who is an enhanced digital media investigator, said the time she spent out in the communities of Staffordshire were her inspiration behind her winning entry to the Stop Loan Sharks competition, entitled “Don’t Borrow From Baz”.
According to the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) which ran the competition, a loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct permission from the Financial Conduct Authority.
They rarely give paperwork, often charge extreme amounts of interest and intimidate or threaten people if they cannot repay.
“My time in neighbourhood policing showed me how easily individuals can fall prey to these loan sharks, particularly over Christmas, and how poverty and deprivation in communities can lead people to think they have no way out,” Maria said.
The competition was part of the Stop Loan Sharks Week campaign, #SharkFreeSurfing, urging people to get advice and support if they have fallen victim to illegal money lending.
The story, which Maria said took her about an hour to write, is available to listen to on the Stop Loan Sharks website at: www.stoploansharks.co.uk/staffordshire-police-investigator-wins-national-short-story-competition/. It is also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
“I just want people to know that there is help out there and people don’t have to suffer in silence,” Maria added.
If you have been affected by loan sharks or suspect someone else has, contact Staffordshire Police on Facebook, Twitter or call 101.