AI Art – Illustrating the Perils of Loan Sharks

About this Project: 

At Digital Arts Box, we were excited to collaborate with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) on an innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) project to empower Runcorn’s youth against illegal money lenders.

Teaming up with Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy, we embarked on a mission to blend art and technology to raise awareness about the dangers of illegal money lending. Through engaging workshops, we guided Year 7 students in creating a captivating rogues’ gallery of images using AI, that aims to showcase the diverse faces of illegal money lenders. 


Our primary goal was to increase awareness among Halton’s youth about the deceptive nature of illegal lending practices. We aimed to empower students to recognise that loan sharks could be anyone in their community, from neighbours to friends, and to understand the risks associated with engaging with them.

Additionally, our project aimed to cultivate digital skills and creativity among the students. By utilising AI technology, we provided students with an opportunity to explore new mediums of expression and develop their digital capabilities while learning about a pressing social issue in their community.

The Solution: 

We conducted presentations with students to educate and empower students on how to spot an illegal money lender, the associated risks, and where to seek help if they or someone they know is involved.

Then, through the medium of AI-generated art, we aimed to dismantle stereotypes and shed light on the diverse faces of illegal lenders. The students achieved this by transforming hand-drawn sketches and short descriptions of the “loan shark” into complete artworks using AI technology. This resulted in the creation of various and diverse portraits, ranging from someone walking their dog in the park to someone enjoying a drink at a cafe! 

These portraits serve as tangible examples of the diversity among those involved in illegal money lending.

The Results:

The project was a success. Through engaging workshops and discussions, students gained knowledge and tools to recognise the signs of illegal money lending and the associated risks of engaging with one. The creation of the rogues’ gallery served as a powerful educational tool for not just the students but our wider community, as the artwork is set to go on display on billboards around England! 

Furthermore, the project facilitated the development of digital and creative skills among students, enhancing their artistic abilities and equipping them with valuable skills for future technologies.

Overall, the project sparked meaningful dialogue and engagement within the community, fostering a sense of collective responsibility and empowerment. It exemplified the transformative power of creative collaboration in addressing pressing social issues, leaving a lasting impact on participants and the broader community alike.


 “Our students have really enjoyed the creative input with the team from Digital Arts Box – it was a brilliant session in which all of our year students participated in, one form group each week. Students learned about the motivations and risks for illegal money lending and sources of support before producing their own AI awareness-raising design. Students had to draw a design by hand and then convert this to a professional-looking product using sophisticated software. I am really grateful to all the colleagues and organisations who made this innovative and important interaction possible.” – Who said this? – Liam Hussey, Leader of Lessons for Life (PSHE) & Digital Safeguarding 

About the England Illegal Money Lending Team and How To Reach Out For Help:

The England Illegal Money Lending Team is an organisation dedicated to combating illegal money lending in England, prioritising the protection of vulnerable individuals and communities from loan sharks. In their 20 years of operation, they’ve supported over 31,500 people, written off £91.2 million of illegal debt, and secured 416 prosecutions, resulting in 598 years of jail time. 

If you suspect you or someone you know is dealing with a loan shark, reach out to the England Illegal Money Lending Team. Their dedicated helpline, available 24/7, offers confidential support and guidance to those affected by illegal money lending. Additionally, their website provides valuable resources and information to help individuals recognise the signs of illegal lending and access support services.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact the England Illegal Money Lending Team today if you suspect illegal lending activity in your area.