08 May

Organized crime entered the cash advance business in the 1930s. The first reports of mob loansharking surfaced in New York City in 1935, and for 15 years, they apparently restricted underworld money lending to that city. So, they say. They did not keep records on many of these transactions, so no one knows for sure. 

At its height in the 1960s, underworld loansharking was estimated to be the second most lucrative business of organized crime after illegal gambling. Newspapers in the 1960s posted stories of debtors beaten, harassed, and sometimes murdered by mob loan sharks.

 Studies of the business have raised doubts about how many were affected by the violence. It never made sense to beat or kill someone who owed you money. If they can’t work or are dead, how are they going to pay you? It’s poor business. 

The way the loan shark makes a living is by placing interest on the loan, also known as the “vig” or vigorous. Vigorish (also known as juice or the vig) is the fee charged by a bookmaker, (or bookie) for a loan on a wager. It’s the same for a loan shark. In American English, it can also refer to the interest owed a loan shark in consideration for credit. The term comes from the Yiddish slang which was itself a loanword from Ukrainian or Russian for winnings or profit.

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