PAY-DAY loan sharks – many of whom charge huge interest rates – are targeting Limerick people selling second-hand goods on Facebook.
Many groups exist on the social media site allowing users to sell items like television sets, DVD players, and jewellery.
And local Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler says independent loan sharks are “preying” on vulnerable people who may be selling possessions owing to financial pressures.
“Unscrupulous people are targeting the vulnerable to make money. It really is a disgusting practice,” he said.
One man who administers a buy-and-sell site serving Limerick people said the page received messages offering high-interest loans from €100 upwards on an almost daily basis.
Although he removes these messages quickly, the loan sharks send private messages to people selling on Facebook.
“When we are under pressure and under stress, we all make silly decisions,” said Cllr Butler.
“We do not look at the fine print, take these guys at their word, and then realise we are having to pay back two to three times the amount borrowed.”
He accused these people of “preying on people’s difficulties in order to make money for themselves”.
The website administrator – who did not wish to be named – said that although users are barred they quickly assume other identities. To this end, he has set up a group which names and shames people who have tried to offer loans.
He said he “detests” the loan offerings.
“There’s not a lot I can do, apart from removing them from the page, and report it to Facebook. But then not much happens to them,” he confirmed.
One comment offering such a facility on the ‘Buy, Sell or Swap Limerick’ Facebook page says they offer loans to: “persons in need of funding, who have a bad credit record or who need money to pay bills, to invest in companies.”
Another user recommends another dealer, saying: “If you have urgent money problems, like me, you can quickly send him a loan application”
After, he said loans are provided for sums between €1,000 and €250,000.
Ballysimon Road man Frank McDonnell, an employment rights advisor, says pay day loan sharks should be avoided “at all costs”.
“It is an absolute shame if a parent has to sell a family heirloom which might have significant sentimental value,” he said.
Mr McDonnell urged people in financial distress to instead approach the Money Advice (MABS), their local credit union, or St Vincent de Paul, if you are struggling to pay bills.