My friend Garth started doing this thing a while back where he loans out money and earns interest (around 12-25% a year). No, he's not a loan shark, he's "buying loans" at prosper.com. You can also get a loan at lower than bank rates apparently to pay off credit cards or whatever. I'm starting off small, hoping to bid $50 on someone's loan this week. You bid in $50 increments, so if someone is loaning $1000 it can come from up to 20 people. Prosper actually takes care of the loan details, you're just purchasing that part of it, taking the risk and the interest earned. They also have deals with collection agencies if your lender defaults on you. It's not foolproof, but it seems to work, and people have a sense of community with who they are borrowing from.
They have a deal right now where you get $25 after making your first loan (as a lender). That's a 50% return right there. Follow this link to do that. http://www.prosper.com/join/gamp