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'Wonga for kids' comes to Finsbury Park with 'Pocket Money Loans' shop

PUBLISHED: 12:20 30 October 2014 | UPDATED: 12:41 30 October 2014

The fake 'store' set up in Finsbury Park - it is actually the Atom Gallery (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)

The fake 'store' set up in Finsbury Park - it is actually the Atom Gallery (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)

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A "worse than Wonga" shop which appears to advertise payday loans for children has appeared in Finsbury Park.

A fake website was even set up to maintain the ruse (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)A fake website was even set up to maintain the ruse (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)

“Pocket Money Loans”, an exhibition by artist Darren Cullen, sprung up in Stroud Green Road on Monday and many locals were taken in by the convincing looking hoax.

According to Mr Cullen a number of residents have gone in to complain about the exhibition, believing it was a real shop, while others even entered to enquire about the service.

The shop is the first exhibition at the Atom Gallery, which is due to be officially opened by long time Finsbury Park resident Mark Thompson next month.

Mr Thompson, 51, said: “He has had a lot of cross people on facebook and Twitter but people have actually been taken in by it so it’s actually a little worrying.

The poster for Pocket Money Loans - offering an APR of 5,000%, still '853% cheaper than Wonga' (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)The poster for Pocket Money Loans - offering an APR of 5,000%, still '853% cheaper than Wonga' (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)

“Somebody even walked in and asked for a loan but left when we said ‘sorry, we only lend to under 18s’.

“It looks great from the front, it looks absolutely convincing.”

According to the artist’s twitter feed a woman came into the shop “enquiring about how her child could get a loan”.

The installation even has its own website where children aged three and over can borrow up to £20 for 60 days.

The amazing FAQ section (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)The amazing FAQ section (Picture: Darren Cullen/Pocket Money Loans)

Mocked up pictures of children despairing over bills with a calculator, revelling in the receipt of coins and rejoicing with shopping bags in hand are displayed in the shop and online.

Mr Cullen, says that the aim of Pocket Money Loans is to “take our consumer debt culture to its logical conclusion.”

He said: “Almost all payday loan companies have cartoon mascots, animated characters or sing-along jingles in their adverts.

“Their high street shops often have play areas full of toys and some of them hand out balloons and sweets to kids at the counter. It’s a clear fact they target children, as both a means of persuading their parents, but also as a way to groom the next generation of indebted customers.”

Mr Thompson, who lives just off Tollington Park, said: “It’s a comment on how low they can stoop, could they go this low?

“I like Darren’s work generally but this particular piece is great, we discussed the whole thing six months ago.

“It’s great that they’re finally starting to reign in these companies and that the likes of Wonga are having a hard time but we were worried that we had left it too late and that it might not work with all that had been happening.

“Then they started just taking money out of peoples bank accounts. I’m really glad that it’s gotten so much attention.”

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