When he lost his job and money worries prompted him to consider suicide, a local thought that a loan shark might be a solution.
Instead, it was the start of a four-year nightmare that left him scared to come out and face threats of violence.
Things got so bad that he couldn’t afford the essentials, including food, gas, electricity or rent, and had to resort to an iron to try to warm himself up in her house.
Now he has spoken out to warn others of what it can mean to borrow money from loan sharks.
And those he turned to for help added their voices to encourage people not to seek help from illegal money lenders.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said by the time he turned to the loan shark he was in bad shape.
“I was out of work, in poor health, things were getting past me and the house was in need of work,” he said.
“I had no money, I felt depressed, lonely, depressed and suicidal.”
He said he had worked his whole life and didn’t want to ask his family for money.
So he contacted a friend of a friend for financial help.
“He came to my house. He made me feel like he was there to help and that he cared for me and he offered me the money I needed, ”he said.
“He set up a repayment plan but I never felt like I could pay him back because it only covered my other loans.
“Things only got worse. I had to use the heat of the iron to warm myself up on the cold winter nights.
“Even when I was able to find money for food, I was too scared to go to the stores in case he or his people saw me or even attacked me.
“I was so afraid of losing the house in which I had lived most of my life.
“The delay in payments meant regular threats of violence. I lived in constant fear.
“He would show up at home at any time of the day or night to demand payment and make violent threats.
“I couldn’t pay, so they took my things like my watch, television, and stereo, but that didn’t reduce the amount of debt.”
The usurer would not come to his house alone, he said.
“There were other men waiting outside in the car and he was also bringing a woman into the house who would take a different but equally intimidating approach.
“I was too scared to answer the door or pick up the phone. I didn’t want to tell the police because he was smart. Even they couldn’t protect me.
He said his ordeal lasted more than four years.
“But it was like a lifetime. Not a day went by that I didn’t feel relaxed or at ease, even in my own home. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
He said he contacted Tai Tarian, formerly known as NPT Homes, and spoke to their financial inclusion team who were able to help him organize his finances and find a way out of the situation.
“I am eternally grateful for their help and support. It was a lifeline in my time of need.
The housing provider and Coastal Housing have teamed up to tell their story in an effort to highlight the dangers of illegal money lending and loan sharks.
They released a short film about her ordeal, in which her story is told.
It is believed that there are over 310,000 moneylender victims across the UK, many of whom are likely to be living in social housing.
Alex Jenkins, Tai Tarian’s tenant empowerment assistant, said: “Illegal lending of money or being a loan shark is a criminal offense. As our film shows, lenders target vulnerable people and offer to help them solve their financial problems.
“However, this help often turns into intimidation and threats of violence when repayments are missed. This can lead borrowers to fear for their safety and be afraid to leave their home. It can be a terrible experience for anyone and can negatively impact their health and well being.
“We hope this film can help highlight the dangers of borrowing money this way and let people know what help is available for anyone facing similar issues.”
“Renters who need our assistance can contact us on 01639 506623 or send an email to [email protected]”
Anyone who is a victim of a loan shark or thinks there might be a loan shark operating in their area can contact the Wales Illegal Money Loan Unit on their 24 hour hotline – 0300 123 3311.
All calls are completely confidential.
Borrowing from a loan shark is not an offense and no action will be taken against anyone who has received money in this way.