New teams taking the fight to loan sharks
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Released 12 Sep 2008
New specialist teams set up by the Government to crackdown on loan sharks
have hit the ground running.
Consumer Affairs Minister Gareth Thomas said:
"The new teams have more than 230 investigations underway into loan sharks.
The total value of the loans being looked into is more than £3million. The
investigations have started to lead to arrests, charges and penalties with more
activity expected over the coming months.
"These teams are working around the clock to ensure that the credit crunch
doesn't drive people into the murky world of illegal money lenders."
Already the new teams have successfully prosecuted four people:
* Brian Darwent, a 37 year old barber from Sheffield, received a 9 month
prison sentence after ripping off schoolchildren and housewives. He charged 100
per cent interest on cash loans, keeping games consoles, bank cards and other
valuables until debts were paid off.
* Scott Anthony, a 41 year old from Basildon, received a 9 month prison
sentence, suspended for two years, for illegal money lending. He had been
operating his business from his home for a number of years, charging half the
amount borrowed as interest. Some loans reached an APR of 384%. Anthony was also
ordered to carry out 80 hours community work.
* Michael Finn, aged 56, and Stephen Sutcliffe aged 42 from Leeds were
sentenced to 200 and 180 hours of unpaid work respectively. Both men used to
work for a legitimate home credit company but when they left following
disagreements they began their own unlicensed business. The men poached clients
from the old company and charged interest rates of more than 1,068 per cent APR.
They often asked for the first repayment at the time the loan was given.
17 people have been charged with offences and are awaiting trial:
* A 26 year old male from Dagenham has been charged with illegal money
lending and disguising criminal property. He is alleged to have lent £71,000 to
23 victims with interest rates of 100%. The case is due to be heard in
Snaresbrook Crown Court on September 15, 2008.
* A 55 year old male shopkeeper from Gwent has been charged with illegally
lending money to school children. He is alleged to have taken collateral in the
form of mobile phones and jewellery. He is due to appear at Cardiff Magistrates
Court on 6th October 2008.
* A female from Stockton has been charged and is on court bail awaiting
committal to Crown Court for illegally lending over £20,000 over a 2 year period
to around 40 victims and using threats of violence and intimidation to recover
her repayments. She's also charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
The new teams are building on the huge success of pilot anti-loan shark teams
in Birmingham and Glasgow. Since September 2004 these two teams have:
* shut down loan books worth more than £7million
* helped more than 6,000 victims
* seized and confiscated £260,000 in cash
* secured successful prosecutions which have resulted in sentences totalling
over 33 years for illegal money lending and related criminal activity including
assault, wounding, kidnapping, blackmail and possession of firearms
* In Scotland more than 30 individuals have been reported to the Procurator
Government's multi-million pound investment means that there is now a
specialist team in every region of England and in Wales and Scotland.
John Hutton announced funding for the new teams in September 2007. Most of
the teams became operational towards the end of the year after completing
recruitment and other logistical arrangements.
1. The anti-loan shark teams funded by the Department for Business are
staffed by specialist Trading Standards officers and work closely with the
2. There are now teams in:
* London - focused on Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets
* North East -focused on Newcastle and Tyneside
* East Midlands - focused on Nottingham, Leicester and Derby
* South West - focused on Bristol and Plymouth
* Wales - focused on Cardiff, Swansea and the Valleys
* The Birmingham pilot team has expanded into Yorkshire and Humberside
(focusing on Sheffield and Leeds), the North West (focusing on Merseyside and
Greater Manchester) the South East and East- focussing on (Peterborough, Great
Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Portsmouth, Southampton and Hastings)
* The Glasgow pilot team covers the whole of Scotland
3. The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform helps UK
business succeed in an increasingly competitive world. It promotes business
growth and a strong enterprise economy, leads the better regulation agenda and
champions free and fair markets. It is the shareholder in a number of
Government-owned assets and it works to secure, clean and competitively priced
About the Author
© Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BERR- Department
for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform replacing DTI - Department for
Trade and Industry. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-09-20 07:42:12 in Business Articles