NEWS

Usurers profiting from debt crisis

The debt crisis has resulted in an increasing number of small businesses and households falling into the clutches of usurers, sources have told Kathimerini. According to legal experts, half of the victims being exploited by moneylenders are traders whose businesses are in trouble. Another 37 percent are self-employed professionals. As for the usurers themselves, most have similar profiles to the victims. According to research carried out by legal expert Marinos Skandamis, a third are traders, another third are self-employed while 20 percent are pensioners. Most usurers charge between 10 and 12 percent interest on loans with the most mercenary demanding 15 percent interest, experts say. Cracking down on loan sharks is difficult because victims are often too scared to testify. Another problem highlighted by experts is that the usury is hard to prove and cases against alleged moneylenders often end up going back and forth between police and prosecutors due to lack of evidence. Experts say banks are also to blame for failing to systematically examine the origin of checks being issued by usurers to victims.