Police across the country took action against 556 cases of shady lending practices in 2003 as a record 322,000 people fell prey to loan sharks, according to the National Police Agency.

The NPA said that both the number of illegal lending cases and the number of victims involved in 2003 were more than twice that of 2002, which had marked an all-time high with 238 cases and about 122,000 victims.

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