News item

Trio ran illegal money lending business

Three people have been convicted of running an unlicensed money lending business, following a 12 day trial at Chester Crown Court.
The trio were investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Cheshire Police Financial Investigation Unit, Warrington and Halton Borough Council and Knowsley Borough Council. They will be sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Thursday 7th November. 

John Radford, 57 from Great Sankey in Warrington, Paul Holman, 35, from Halewood in Knowsley and Sindy Hope, 50 from Runcorn were convicted of running the illegal money lending business between October 2010 and the point of their arrest in March 2012, lending to individuals in the Halton and Liverpool areas.

Radford was previously convicted of two firearms offences, after a loaded gun and a quantity of ammunition was uncovered in March 2012 when officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team, assisted by Cheshire Police executed a warrant at his home. In addition over £17,000 was seized from safes at his home.

Following his arrest he was remanded in custody and, after being found guilty,  sentenced to eight years in prison for possession of the gun, and two years for possession of the ammunition to be served concurrently.  

Cllr David Keane, executive board member for environment and public protection, said: "The results of this case should send out a clear message - illegal money lending will not be tolerated, we are working hard to catch these criminals and will take whatever action necessary. 

"In Warrington we are fully aware of the impact illegal money lending can have on people and families which is why we are supporting the recently launched Warrington Money Box, in Warrington Market, which offers ethical and affordable financial services, through Warrington Credit Unions."

A spokesperson for Knowsley Council said: “These convictions send out a clear message that we will not tolerate loan sharks preying on innocent victims. I want to assure those people who have fallen victim to an illegal money lender that help is available and we can offer them support to escape these problems. Help is only a phone call away and our service is totally confidential.”

Tony Quigley Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said “Illegal lenders are a scourge on our communities. Motivated by greed, they draw extortionate amounts of money from vulnerable people, leaving them in financial difficulty. As this case exemplifies illegal money lending often links in with serious criminal activity. It is a crime that will not be tolerated. We would urge anyone aware of any illegal money lending activity to call us in confidence on 0300 555 2222 so we can take action. Our lines are open 24/7 and callers can remain anonymous” 

DI Dave Blood, from Cheshire Police's Financial Investigation Unit, said:  "Through the close working relationship between Cheshire Police, the Illegal Money Lending Team and other agencies - a dangerous criminal, who preyed on the vulnerable people of Cheshire, profiting from fear and bringing misery to local communities, has been brought to justice.  

"Cheshire Police is committed to continuing to work in partnership to alleviate distress and hardship within local communities caused by unlicensed money lenders.  We will not tolerate any sort of behaviour that has a negative effect on the quality of life of local people and we would urge anyone with any concerns regarding illegal money lending to seek the appropriate help and advice."

Nationally the illegal money lending teams have secured over 287 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 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 

E-mailreportaloanshark@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 287 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. 

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DATE: 17 October 2013