News item

Cambridge loan shark sentenced

A 46 year old woman who admitted operating as a loan shark in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, has been sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, following a hearing at Cambridge Crown Court.

Narcita Mallari, of Arran Close pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal money lending just before she was due to stand trial. She was investigated and prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Cambridge County Council.

A second suspect a 41 year old woman also from Cambridge, pleaded not guilty and charges have not been proceeded with.

Mallari ran the illegal business for two years from January 2010 up until the point of her arrest in January 2012, lending to members of the local Filipino community.

During the search of her home the England Illegal Money Lending Team found notebooks and diaries recording the details of borrowers. 75 entries were recorded, with a total of around £156,000 being loaned out, with interest and late payment charges added. The amounts ranged from £350 to £4000. 

The court heard how Mallari harassed borrowers with aggressive texts, emails and facebook messages or would turn up at borrower’s homes uninvited to demand repayment.

In one instance she told a borrower she wanted to “scrub their face on concrete” and told another to “get an advance on their funeral”. Victims described how they were frightened and badly affected by Mallari’s behaviour.

She threatened to shame borrowers about their debt, by telling other people in the community, and one occasion she forced a borrower to hand over the title deeds for land in the Philippines as security on the loan. 

Mallari didn’t hold a licence to lend money legally and provided little or no paperwork- borrowers described how it was very difficult to get a definite answer of how much they were to pay, as the debt kept spiralling.

Upon sentencing HHJ Hawkesworth said “Mallari reverted to making threats of a not particularly florid nature but causing fear and anxiety in particular as to what might happen to a victim’s family. Mallari became angry at the fact that there were problems with repayment and attempted to obtain title deeds from a victim. This clearly crosses the custody threshold but I can suspend.”

Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Skill, Councillor Mathew Shuter, said: "Our Trading Standards team works closely with the England Illegal Money Lending Team and this successful prosecution is a result of that co-operation. Illegal money lenders prey on some of the most vulnerable people in our community and anything we can do to stamp out their activities has to be a good thing and I would urge anyone who has been a victim of such a money lender or has any information on their activities to report it to the authorities immediately."
 
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “We are continuing to crack down on loan sharks who operate illegally in our communities, using fear and intimidation to force borrowers into paying back far more than they have borrowed. We would urge people never to turn to a loan shark, no matter how desperate they are, as they will end up trapped in spiralling debt. If you or someone you know has been affected by a loan shark, then we can put an end to their criminal activities. Call us in confidence on 0300 555 2222.”

Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured 235 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading more than 157 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 20,000 victims.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

***ENDS***

For more information contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119 or email sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430 or pressoffice@tsi.org.uk.

Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.

NTSB provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.

The Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams in England, Scotland and Wales.  The NTSB has responsibility for the England and Wales Illegal Money Lending Teams that are hosted by Birmingham City Council and Cardiff Council. There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 235 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 157 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 20,000 people.

The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders.

DATE: 18 June 2013