The Welsh loan sharks charging up to 700,000,000% in interest

It's a figure so large it's impossible to comprehend: 700,000,00%

But that's how much some loan sharks in Wales are charging their victims, sadly it's not unusual.

Credit: ITV Wales

It's estimated £30 million pounds is repaid by loan shark victims every year in Wales, the true figure could be much higher.

Robert Sparey, a loan shark for two decades was jailed last month Credit: Cardiff Council

Loan sharks often operate in some of Wales' most deprived communities.

That was the case with Robert Sparey, who jailed last month for three years and six months after operating as a shark for twenty years.

He targeted Lansbury Park in Caerphilly. His victims were vulnerable, desperate for quick cash and had low credit ratings.

Sparey could come across as charming, your local mate down the pub; but he wasn't. He threatened to burn the house down of one of his victims.

Loan sharks know how to intimidate.

An axe used by a loan shark to intimidate victims Credit: ITV Wales

At the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit they show me some of the tools they've recovered from loan sharks. They are intended to scare. Among them are a axe and hammer.

Stephen Grey heads the unit, he says victims often feel like they have broken the law and are reluctant to come forward

Stephen Grey says victims shouldn't be afraid to come forward Credit: ITV Wales

That was true of one victim I spoke to under condition of anonymity. You can see more of his story on tonight's Wales at Six.

"When you're destitute and it's hard, and you have a low credit history, then people come along and they offer you money then it's like a way out, a gift.

But when you pay them back it becomes a nightmare."

– Loan Shark Victim

If you want to report a loan shark you can contact the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit on 0300 123 3311. All calls are completely confidential.