Loan sharks target new victims via WhatsApp and Facebook

Criminals have been using social media – from dating sites to local community groups – to find, threaten and control people in debt

Local WhatsApp groups have been one of the silver linings of the pandemic, creating community ties and support networks. Yet loan sharks are increasingly using these groups to extort money from their victims, according to England’s Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), an organisation that prosecutes illegal lenders and supports victims.

Such lenders are also targeting their victims online – the IMLT’s 2020 victim statistics report shows that one in 10 victims met the loan shark via social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook, or through dating websites. Criminals are also creating their own WhatsApp and Facebook groups that appear to be for local communities but are actually ways to maintain control over their victims, according to Tony Quigley, the head of the IMLT. “It looks like a local community group,” he said. “They will say ‘come and join the group’, ‘see what’s going on’. But it has a more sinister side to it.”

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Penrith Panthers face Cronulla Sharks; Parramatta Eels take on Sydney Roosters round nine, results, draw, scores, schedule, tips, odds, teams

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Sharks use Earth’s magnetic fields as a map when making long-distance migrations, scientists say

Sharks are the ocean’s world travellers, swimming thousands of kilometres a year to their favoured locations.

But how do they pull off these impressive feats of navigation without looking out for landmarks?

A US team has shown that sharks use the Earth’s magnetic fields as a map when making long-distance migrations to specific locations.

The findings are published today in the journal Current Biology.

“Even when they’re far away, the animals know where they are and where to swim to get home,” said study co-author Bryan Keller at Florida State University. 


Magnetic map readers?

Many species of sharks, skates and rays travel far and wide in the ocean, with some species returning to the same locations each year.

In 2005, a great white shark called “Nicole” made a record-breaking return trip from South Africa to Australia, swimming over 20,000 kilometres in just nine months.

For half a century, researchers have suspected that sharks are sensitive to magnetic fields, which could be used for navigation.

Other animals like sea turtles, lobsters and newts are known to be magnetically sensitive, but no-one has been able to confirm whether sharks are too.

Homeward bound

To find out, Mr Keller and colleagues captured 20 juvenile bonnethead sharks – a small coastal species that return to the same estuaries each year – from off the coast of Florida.

They brought the sharks back to the lab and placed them in holding tanks.

Surrounding the tanks were wooden frames with copper wires running along their edges.

The team built frames with copper wires to recreate the magnetic fields in locations where sharks frequent. (

Supplied: Keller et al./Current Biology


By tweaking the current running through these wires, the researchers were able to recreate the magnetic fields the sharks would experience in three different locations.

When the team adjusted the current to match conditions 600 kilometres south of where the sharks were collected from, they swam in a northward direction, indicating that they were able to read the magnetic field like a map to guide them home.

They also checked what happened when the magnetic field values north of Florida, in the middle of the state of Tennessee, were reproduced.

In this case, the sharks showed no particular swimming preference.

The researchers reasoned this might be because the sharks’ magnetic map-reading abilities were learned from locations they frequent.

Since they would never have experienced a land-based magnetic field before, the animals would not be able to rely on it to navigate.

A shark in a tank
The researchers exposed the sharks to different magnetic fields and tracked their swimming direction.(

Supplied: Bryan Keller


And when the researchers exposed the sharks to the magnetic field conditions of the site where they were captured from, they didn’t swim in a particular direction as they were already “home”.

“This suggests that sharks have an amazing ability to detect and navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field,” said Nathan Hart, a neurobiologist at Macquarie University who was not involved in the study.

All in the genes

The researchers also wanted to explore whether magnetic fields could help explain another mystery: why sharks from the same species are genetically distinct in different locations?

The team compared mitochondrial genes (passed down from the mother) and nuclear genes (inherited from both parents) in bonnethead sharks from various locations in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.

They also tracked the difference in magnetic field values, sea surface temperatures, and coastal distances between the locations.

It turned out that the magnetic fields across the locations accounted for more variation in the sharks’ mitochondrial DNA than temperature and distance. 

This suggests that on an evolutionary scale, females that initially colonised an area may have selected it based on similarities between the magnetic fields of that location and the one they originally came from, Mr Keller said.

This tendency to stick to specific locations means that sharks don’t cross paths with far-flung members of the same species, leading to genetically distinct groups scattered throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

A built-in compass?

While it’s clear that sharks rely on magnetic navigation to cruise the seas, the next step is figuring out how they pick up on these magnetic cues.

Even though there are no shortage of theories on how animals, including sharks, can detect magnetic fields — from the presence of light-sensitive pigments in the eye to tiny crystals of magnetite in the nose and head — scientists are still scratching their heads. 

For instance, migratory birds also use the Earth’s magnetic fields to guide their flights paths, but they are only able to pick up on them during the day, suggesting that light plays a role.

However, other animals, such as turtles, are able to read magnetic maps in complete darkness.

“This is definitely still an unsolved mystery in biology,” Professor Hart said.

“Given how many animals detect and orient to the Earth’s magnetic field, it’s an important one to solve.”

Mr Keller said that it would be also interesting to explore whether magnetic fields generated by human activities — such as underwater cables and offshore wind farms — throw off sharks’ sense of direction. 

“If a shark is using magnetic navigation to find a target and it detects an anomaly, it could get confused.”

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NRL 2021: Craig Bellamy coaching future, Melbourne Storm, news, updates, Cronulla Sharks, Brisbane Broncos

A selfless Craig Bellamy has revealed he could walk away from coaching this season if he feels he is losing his passion for the role.

While Bellamy is yet to make a decision on whether he will continue coaching, Bellamy told The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie that he would hate to keep going if he was “half-interested”.

Bellamy said he would not want to be letting anyone else in the club down.

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Round 9

Hodgson’s captaincy up in the air


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Melbourne Storm soar past Cronulla Sharks for fifth win on the trot

“I am probably a bit mellow in my old age these days, it probably wasn’t one of the sprays that they would have got ten years ago. There were a couple of things we needed to fix up, and I just wanted to make that point pretty strongly and with all due respect they responded in really good fashion.”

The Sharks may have been languishing in the lower reaches of the ladder as they came into this game, but they were determined not to take a backward step against the Victorian powerhouse and it was the visitors who had the better of the early exchanges.

Reimis Smith celebrates one of his three tries on Friday night.Credit:NRL Photos

They were denied an early lead when Connor Tracey converted a long ball from Chad Townsend only for the pass to be ruled forward.

The Storm would have hoped that an early penalty to Cameron Munster would have calmed any nerves, but that wasn’t how it turned out for the remainder of the half after Townsend’s penalty levelled the scores.

The game turned into something of an arm-wrestle thereafter, with both sides having chances: Wade Graham denied Storm second rower Felise Kaufusi with a try-saving tackle while former Storm legend Will Chambers, returning to the NRL with Cronulla after starring with Melbourne in three grand final wins and 215 games, also looked to get involved.

Storm took the lead against the run of play after 19 minutes when Josh Addo-Carr did what he does best – galloping the length of the field and burning off challengers to go over for a try after some good assist work by Kenny Bromwhich following a Shaun Johnson error.

Many teams might have buckled at this point but the Sharks dug deep. Tracey thought he might have levelled only to be denied by a Jahrome Hughes tackle before the wide man made a significant intervention at the other end to prevent Kaufusi from scoring.

The Sharks got a deserved equaliser when Briton Nikora accelerated through the Storm defence and when Townsend converted it was the visitors who went to the interval with their noses in front.

But that was not to last as the Storm found a way to get back in front. Hughes broke with pace, Munster stepped through gaps and the ball was moved across the storm defensive line, with Tom Eisenhuth eventually collecting the ball to go over in the 46th minute.

Melbourne were now finding their groove after that poor (by their standards) opening half, and they made it back to back tries and stretched the lead to 10 points when Tui Kamikamica powered through a gap to score after being found by Harry Grant, Munster converting.

Reimis Smith celebrates with teammates.

Reimis Smith celebrates with teammates.Credit:Getty Images

Storm winger Reimis Smith scored twice against the Warriors on Anzac Day, and he got on the scoresheet again, bursting through from a Nicho Hynes pass to extend the advantage with another try.

Hughes was in excellent form against the Warriors, and he showed his stepping skills to break through with 15 minutes remaining for Storm’s fifth try of the evening, Brandon Smith making it six three minutes later.

Smith added two more in the dying minutes and it was scant consolation when Tracey got the Sharks only try of the game in the last minute.

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Adam Reynolds’ Cronulla Sharks rumours grow stronger as Souths playmaker speaks on Craig Fitzgibbon

Coach Wayne Bennett’s successor Jason Demetriou looks set to take the reins at a club with rookie halfbacks Blake Taaffe and Lachlan Ilias to partner Cody Walker.

Reynolds played another big role against the Raiders as Souths marched to a seventh straight victory in the nation’s capital. His radar-like right boot kicked all seven conversions.

The skipper leads Souths into action at GIO Stadium on Thursday night.Credit:Getty Images

The 30-year-old said he was not sure when his future would be sorted and “I have no idea how long it will take – we’re no closer than we were last week”.

“While I’m in the red and green jersey it’s my job to perform and play well,” he said.

Johns and Thurston said during Channel Nine’s coverage of the Raiders game they could not understand how Reynolds, who grew up across the road from Redfern Oval, could not be accommodated at the club long-term while still such a dominant force.

“I can’t believe he’s not signed, a local junior, he’s played all his footy there and a premiership-winning halfback and he’s on the open market,” Thurston said.

Johns took aim at the NRL’s “flawed system”, saying it should reward long-serving players like Reynolds by having his entire salary excluded from Souths’ cap. As it stands, clubs have less than $200,000 to spend outside the cap on long-serving players.

“You’ve got a local junior who’s played 10 years in first grade and the last year or two should not even be on the cap,” Johns said.


Reynolds said Souths needed to improve their starts if they hoped to turn the tables on fellow heavyweights Melbourne on Thursday night.

The Storm raced to a 22-0 lead before clinging on for a 26-18 victory against Souths in the season opener.

“They’ve had the wood over us for some time now,” Reynolds said.

Lock forward Cameron Murray had scans on the left ankle he injured while making a tackle on Hudson Young in the first half against Canberra, which also forced him to undergo a head injury assessment.

“I didn’t feel anything, I got up and it was sore to walk on. I’m hoping for the best,” he said.

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Sharks v Hornets in first all-Queensland VFL derby

The first all-Queensland VFL derby will take place at 1pm tomorrow with the Southport Sharks at home against the Aspley Hornets.

The two teams last clashed 595 days ago in the 2019 NEAFL Preliminary Final, with the Sharks claiming a 30 point win on route to the Grand Final.

It’ll be the first home game for Southport, still buzzing after last week’s one point win over Carlton, which saw Lukas Webb clinch victory in the final minute after being down by five points.

He’ll be one to watch tomorrow, alongside Billy Gowers who slotted six in his debut game.

The Hornets also come into the match with confidence and a round one win on their side, after thrashing Port Melbourne by 53 points.

Likely to shine again will be Matt Payne, who made his mark on the VFL last week kicking two goals in the first quarter.

The triple NEAFL MVP, triple AFLQ best-and-fairest winner and 11-time club champion went on to finish with 27 disposals, seven marks and four tackles.

The ANZAC Day clash kicks off at 1pm at Fankhauser Reserve.

The game will be live streamed on the VFL YouTube channel.

Last meeting:

Saturday, September 7, 2019
NEAFL Preliminary Final, Fankhauser Reserve, Southport

Southport 14.10-94 def. Aspley 9.10-64 


Picture by TJ Yelds 

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Bull sharks are stealing fishers’ catch in the Herbert River — up to 80km from the ocean

Hinchinbrook Shire fishers are accustomed to losing the odd fish to hungry bull sharks, known to congregate around seafaring vessels as they seek barramundi, mangrove jack, coral trout and red emperor.

But a lesser known occurrence is that the the sharks also lurk in the region’s main freshwater body, the Herbert River, which flows through the town of Ingham, 100 kilometres north of Townsville.

Sharks are being caught by recreational anglers upstream of Abergowrie, more than 80km from the ocean, by local sugarcane farmer Mark Zatta and his mates and family.

“They’re getting up to a metre in size — it’s a bit hairy getting them into the boat.

“They do like the freshwater. [During] the last five years we’ve been spotting them more and more.”

On a recent trip in his 3m tinny, Mr Zatta said he hooked a good-sized barramundi when, to his shock, a bull shark charged onto the scene.

“I caught a barra there and a shark chased him in, grabbed the barra and the lure at the same time, it was great fun trying to get him in the little boat,” Mr Zatta said.

“Once you hook up, other things like to chase them.

Mr Zatta has lived and fished in the river most of his life and said, despite hearing the sharks could adapt to freshwater, he was surprised at how far they travelled upriver.

Griffith University shark researcher Johan Gustafson has spent time tagging and studying bull sharks and said 80km upriver was further than the fish was normally found inland.

“They’re generally found between 20 to 50km from the ocean, they can probably go further, it’s a natural occurrence for juvenile bull sharks,” he said.

“The bull shark has a unique life cycle.

Dr Gustafson said it was common for bull sharks worldwide to begin life in freshwater from Perth to Sydney, across the northern two-thirds of the continent.

Juveniles spend up to seven years growing from a size of 30 centimetres at birth, migrating down the river during that period as they mature.

“As it gets larger, it will spend less time in the upper reaches and more time in the lower reaches and it won’t go back further up,” Dr Gustafson said.

Targeting sharks more than 1.5m long is illegal in Queensland but Dr Gustafson says catching the juvenile fish is a popular sport across the state.

“They’re not endangered but are on a slightly declining population trend … I don’t think fishing is going to cause any issues for them,” he said.

Dr Gustafson is part of a team currently tagging along the Queensland coastline to better understand the bull shark’s movements.

Mr Zatta said he had concerns about the sharks eating too many of the popular local angling species, barramundi, but Dr Gustafson said it was unlikely the sharks were impacting fish stocks.

“Under that 1m size they don’t have fully-developed jaws so they’d be going for soft foods,” he said.

“They’ll be looking at shellfish, crustaceans and as they grow they’ll go for larger prey items like fish.

Both Mr Zatta and Dr Gustafson said the main safety concern for river users remained estuarine crocodiles, not juvenile bull sharks.

“It’s definitely not a place to go swimming: stay in the boat, stay in the boat,” Mr Zatta said.

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Sharks get their bite back

SORRENTO have scored their first win for the season after an epic matchup against Pines.

The Sharks made the long road trip to Eric Bell Reserve to take on the Pythons on Saturday. Pines got off to a good start early and took a lead into the first break. The Sharks didn’t let the Pythons get too far ahead though, and had drawn level by three-quarter-time.

Nine goals were kicked in a pulsating final term. Sorrento managed to get themselves five points in front, and held on for a hard-fought win 12.12 (84) to 13.11 (89).

Shannon Gladman was best afield for the Sharks, kicking four goals. The win puts Sorrento back on the right path after a horror performance against Rosebud in round one.

The clash was a rematch of the epic 2018 Grand Final, in which Pines won with a point scored after the siren.

Mt Eliza and Frankston YCW shared the points on Saturday in an enthralling draw.

The Redlegs were getting the better of the Stonecats throughout the first half, and took a 22 point lead into the main break.

Frankston YCW wrestled back momentum in the second half. The lead was closed to eight points by three-quarter-time.

The Stonecats got close to completing the fightback, but just fell short. The siren blew with both sides equal on 86 points.

Matthew Troutbeck booted five goals in a best on ground performance for the Stonecats.

Rosebud’s good start to 2021 continued with a win over reigning premiers Dromana at home.

Rosebud were the better team throughout the afternoon. They defeated the Tigers 13.15 (93) to 9.11 (65).

Nicholas Batsanis and Greg Bentley were big contributors for the winning outfit, scoring four goals each.

A six-goal haul from Trent Dennis-Lane helped Bonbeach secure a 28 point win over Red Hill.

Jonathon Ross can hold his head high after contributing six goals to the losing side’s final total.

At Regents Park, Frankston Bombers comfortably defeated Edithvale-Aspendale 8.12 (60) to 18.10 (118). Corey Buchan played another blinder, scoring seven goals.

First published in the Frankston Times – 20 April 2021

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Cronulla Sharks sign former Melbourne Storm veteran Will Chambers on cut-price deal for the rest of season

Meanwhile, an injury crisis could force the Sharks to name Will Chambers in their extended squad for the clash against the Bulldogs only days after he arrived at the club.

Caretaker coach Josh Hannay, who took over last week after Cronulla axed Morris, was weighing up whether to include former Storm veteran Chambers in his side for the pivotal game against winless Canterbury after he completed his first training session with the side on Monday.

Chambers, 32, was initially told his path to the NRL would be back through feeder side Newtown, but so desperate are the Sharks given a mounting injury toll there is a small chance he could be named in their 21-man squad on Tuesday.

He was said to have arrived at the club in good shape after a stint in Japanese rugby.

Hannay was forced to use back-rower Teig Wilton in the centres and utility Connor Tracey on the wing in their last-gasp loss to the Knights last week, but could have Josh Dugan available after he was rested due to concussion. First-choice wingers Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo are long-term absentees.

Captain Wade Graham is likely to miss another week after he also sat out the Knights match with concussion.

Will Chambers could be thrown straight into the Sharks’ side for the clash against Canterbury.Credit:Getty Images

The news comes as Hannay faces his first big selection headaches with Johnson re-joining the main group as he nears the end of his recovery from a long standing achilles problem, heaping pressure on incumbent halves Townsend and Moylan.

Hannay has already flagged he won’t move fullback Will Kennedy, who has been among the Sharks’ best this season.

“It’s whichever combination wins,” Townsend said of Hannay’s halves conundrum this week. “At the end of the day we’re in the business of winning games. That’s what it comes down to.

“Will Kennedy has been awesome, he’s reaping the reward of a lot of hard work earlier in his career when he had to put on a lot of size and now he’s at the point where he’s really icing some big moments. He’s probably been one of our most improved players, along with Connor Tracey.”

But for now the Sharks will revel in the cut-price deal they brokered for Chambers, who was Cronulla’s chief antagonist when the sides built a great rivalry around their 2016 grand final epic. Chambers even felt compelled to clear the air with former Sharks skipper Paul Gallen before joining the club.

“I’m excited about pulling on the Sharks jersey and being a part of this special organisation, an organisation that’s very tough and very competitive,” he added.

“I’m competitive and I’d like to bring that here to the Sharks. And there’s some special young boys here at the moment and I’d love to see them succeed. I’ve been lucky enough to play in a special system down in Melbourne and I’d love to bring some of that experience here to Cronulla.”

Chambers’ reunion with the Storm could come as soon as next week with the Sharks poised to travel to Melbourne on April 30.

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