Birmingham's pilot loan shark unit has been running since last September and has investigated 35 cases involving loan sharks since it opened.
The team, which is funded by the DTI and run by Birmingham's Trading Standards Department, uses surveillance methods to track loan sharks and bring them to justice.
A similar pilot project is operating in Glasgow as part of a £2 million Whitehall initiative against people offering illegal consumer credit.
Mark Washington Johnson's conviction was a coup for the unit as he had illegally lended to more than 700 customers. "We are pleased we have managed to remove an illegal money lender that effectively was causing problems for the community," said the head of the Loan Shark Unit, who has asked for his name not to be used.
"Money lending is one of the world's oldest professions so there are always many of them about.
"Unlicensed money lending is a very difficult offence to pursue and we have to rely on people telling you about it."
"They are not the lenders who advertise in classified ads in the papers. This man did not advertise. These people rely on word of mouth and that is why we need people to come forward with information.
"The people that lend from them are not buying plasma screen TVs, it's to get the baby a pram or a winter coat.
"These are unlawful debts so they can't enforce repayment through legal means. The only way they can force you to do it is through intimidation."
He said a loan shark was unlikely to show the debtor any paperwork relating to the 'agreement'.
"He doesn't comply with any of the rules around proper paperwork so people know what they have to pay back," he said.
"Money lenders must be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading and people can ring up to check if a money lender is on their register."
Councillor Neil Eustace, chair of Birmingham Trading Standards Public Protection Committee, said of yesterday's conviction: "This is the first of many cases being brought by this specialist team it sends out a message to those individuals operating illegally that we are not prepared to let this continue.
"We will support anybody that is undergoing persecution by a loan shark. The team are trained to deal sensitively with victims of loan sharks and we will use the full weight of the law at our disposal to stamp out this illegal activity."
Anyone who wants to report a loan shark can call 0121 693 1122.