A 43 year-old Croydon man has been jailed for operating as an illegal loan shark for the past 4 years.
Julian Douglas, of Dinsdale Gardens, South Norwood, was sentenced to 20 months in prison this week for illegal money lending across London and Kent.
Douglas, who had been trapping vulnerable locals into crippling debt from November 2009 to May 2013, was arrested after he was reported to the England Illegal Money Lending Team in May.
During an investigation in his home, 24 loan agreements relating to current loans were found. It showed £32,000 had been loaned out with an expected return of £115,000.
In an interview, Douglas admitted to illegally lending to the 24 individuals and many more over a period of around four and a half years.
He was released on bail with conditions to not directly contact anyone listed in his records.
Several reports to the England Illegal Money Laundering Team later showed that Douglas had breached the conditions of his bail and had visited the homes or had cold called the borrowers, telling them to continue paying their loans and destroy any documentation linked to the them.
Two weeks later he was re-arrested for attempting to pervert the course of justice and had continued illegally lending money.
Upon sentencing at Croydon Crown Court last week, His Honour Judge McKinnon said: “[This is] an insidious business of a loan shark over a period of three and a half years.
“His poor wretched victims had no real possibility of paying off the loan. It was a highly profitable and substantial unlicensed business, a very bad case with interest in excess of 600%.”
The chairman of the National Trading Standards Board Lord Toby Harris commented that the board are working hard to tackle the crimes by working with local authorities to bring loan sharks to justice. He said: “Loan sharks target the most vulnerable in society and often trap them for years – even decades – with crippling repayments, destroying lives of individuals and their families.”
Councillor Simon Hoar, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “Douglas and his like target the vulnerable and take advantage of those who may not be able to obtain a loan through more traditional means, so turn to illegal loan sharks only to find that iniquitous interest charges send their initially small loan spiralling beyond their means.
“It’s hoped that others operating illegally in this manner take heed of Douglas’ sentence and cease their heartless dealings.
“And it’s important that members of the public do not take loans from unlicensed lenders.”
The Stop Loan Shark Project nationally has secured the prosecutions of 266 illegal money lending and related activity, helping more than 22,000 victims.
To report a loan shark: Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 or Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003. You can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org