Croydon loan shark sentenced to 20 months in prison for “insidious” illegal business
A 43 year old man, who operated as a loan shark across London and Kent from November 2009 to May 2013, has been sentenced to 20 months in prison following a hearing at Croydon Crown Court today.
Julian Douglas of Dinsdale Gardens pleaded guilty to illegal money lending, money laundering and attempting to pervert the course of justice at a hearing in September. He was investigated and prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Croydon Council.
On behalf of the prosecution Ben Williams told the court how unemployed Douglas operated without a licence expecting borrowers to pay back double the amount they had borrowed. The investigation revealed that he had arranged, managed and enforced loans.
Douglas was reported to the England Illegal Money Lending Team via their 24/7 hotline, and in May this year they executed a warrant at his home, seizing documentation including 24 loan agreements, relating to current loans.
The agreements showed he had loaned out around £32,000 and was expecting a return of almost £115,000.
In interview Douglas admitted he had been lending illegally to the 24 individuals and many others over a period of around four and half years. He charged borrowers double the amount, and found new customers via word of mouth. He admitted that many borrowers “rolled over” their loans into new ones, so would never be able to pay off the capital unless they stopped borrowing.
Following his arrest Douglas was released on bail with conditions not to directly or indirectly contact anyone listed in his records.
However several people contacted the England Illegal Money Lending Team to state that Douglas had visited their homes or cold called from a different mobile number. He told them to continue paying the loans, destroy any documentation and not to tell the England Illegal Money Lending Team that he had been in contact.
Following this, a fortnight after his first arrest, Douglas was rearrested for attempting to pervert the course of justice, and a further count of illegal money lending. He has been remanded in custody since.
Upon sentencing The Recorder of Croydon, His Honour Judge McKinnon said this was “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%. “
A financial investigation under proceeds of crime legislation is ongoing.
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 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.”
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Loan sharks may appear genuine and seem to be offering a community service, but they extort borrowers with exorbitant interest charges, profiting at their expense, for their own greed. We are continuing to crack down on this crime and would urge people to ensure that if they are in financial difficulties they seek advice or look to safe and legal alternatives, such as credit unions.
We would urge anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark or knows or anyone who has to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222.”
Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured 266 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading more than 171 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 22,000 victims.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject
For more information contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119 or email email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
For a custody photo of Julian Douglas visit http://www.met.police.uk/pressbureau/index.htm
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 266 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to more than 171 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 22,000 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: 04 October 2013