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Since the 1800s, loan sharks have been a way of microfinancing or securing both small and large loans not otherwise accessible to many in the United States. The difference between loan sharking and a legitimate loan entail (a) the interest rate, in that the former charges what many would deem an excessive interest rate (e.g., 20 percent per week); (b) the consequences associated with failure to repay the loan; and (c) whether or not the business is cash only. Failure to repay a loan shark’s loan as scheduled can lead to harm—namely, embarrassing exposure, vandalism, threat of harm, and, in rare cases, physical harm to the borrower. Unlike media portrayals of broken limbs and homicide, real-life loan sharks need their debtors’ collateral, which is ...

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