News item

Birmingham loan shark who ran “significant” illegal money lending business sentenced to eight months in prison.

A 43 year old man who operated as a loan shark, has been sentenced to eight months in prison following an investigation by the England Illegal Money Lending Team.

Kevin Renford, of Albert Road in Handsworth was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to illegal money lending and possession of criminal property.
Renford ran the illegal business from February 2008 to the point of his arrest in November 2012.  When officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team, who are hosted by Birmingham City Council, executed a warrant at his home they found computer records and handwritten reports relating to the illegal business and seized £13,460 in cash.

Due to the facts that penalties were sporadically added for late or missed payments, and several of Renford’s borrowers had taken out a number of loans, it was difficult to ascertain the true scale of the business.  

However Renford’s own records showed he had at least 23 customers over the time which he operated, loaning out at least £36,950 and receiving up to £600 a week in repayments.

Unemployed Renford had two methods of accumulating interest. His favoured method was charge to charge £10 per week per £100 borrowed, until the whole amount borrowed could be paid in one lump sum. Alternatively he would charge a standard flat rate- one example of this was a loan for £400, in which £790 had to be repaid.
In some instances Renford took items including phones and laptops ‘as security’ on loans.

On behalf of the prosecution Jennifer Josephs told the Court how Radford had adopted a methodical approach to the illegal business- devising loan agreements and payment schedules and meticulously calculating interest payments. As victims paid directly into his bank accounts, He had split his money between several in an attempt to avoid detection. 

Text messages uncovered on Renford’s phone showed he was persistent in pursuing repayment when borrowers were struggling to repay and threatened to take items if payment was not received. 
Upon sentencing His Honour Judge Webb said “You ran a money lending business without a licence charging extortionate rates of interest. The persons you described as friends were vulnerable. The records suggest £36,950 but I do not believe for one minute that these records were complete. It was a significant business for a significant period. There was no direct threats but there was a degree of malice in the concerned terms. Offences of this nature cross the custody threshold.”

The chairman of the National Trading Standards Board Lord Toby Harris 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.
“Trading standards are working extremely hard to tackle these despicable criminals –the specialist Illegal Money Lending Team, funded by the National Trading Standards Board, is making a real difference in communities all over the country.  

The team provides a safe haven enabling victims to come forward and works together with local authority trading standards services, and other partners, to bring loan sharks to justice.

“We would urge anyone in the grips of a loan shark to call 0300 555 2222 in confidence to report the criminal and to get help.”

Councillor Barbara Dring, Chairman of the Public Protection Committee at Birmingham City Council, which oversees the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “This is an excellent result which exemplifies the fact that loan sharks will not be tolerated in our City. Loan sharks exploit others for their own greed but the England Illegal Money Lending Team are continuing to bring offenders to justice and stamp out this horrendous crime. 

We need your support to continue to tackle loan sharks in Birmingham and across the country and would urge anyone with information to contact the Team in confidence by calling 0300 555 2222. Callers can remain anonymous”

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Loan sharks rip borrowers off and profit at their expense. Renford charged exorbitant amounts of interest, trapping borrowers into spiralling debt.  We will continue to crack down on illegal lenders who cause misery in our communities and bring them before the courts. If you or someone you know has been involved with a loan shark, contact us in confidence so we can help you.”

Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured 255 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading more than 165 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

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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 255 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 165 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. 

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DATE: 16 August 2013