News item

Convicted loan shark ordered to pay back nearly £12,000

A convicted loan shark has been ordered to pay back nearly £12,000 to the courts, following a financial investigation by the England Illegal Money Lending Team. 

Julian Douglas, aged 43 from Croydon was investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Croydon Council’s Trading Standards Team. His only asset was a share of the equity in his home, amounting to £11,550. He must pay back this amount within six months or face a further eight months in prison.

He previously pleaded guilty to illegal money lending, money laundering and attempting to pervert the course of justice. In October 2013, he was sentenced to 20 months in prison. 

At Friday’s hearing Ben Williams on behalf of the prosecution told Croydon Crown Court, how Julian Douglas made a total of £85,000 over a period of six years through his criminal conduct. £18,195 of this was through illegal money lending.

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. 

He was reported to the England Illegal Money Lending Team via their 24/7 hotline, and in May last 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 was remanded in custody   

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%“  

Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, "The original prosecution was brought about thanks to strong partnership working between the council and the illegal money lending team.

"This case goes to show that investigators will not stop at conviction, and will continue working to deprive people like Douglas of any assets gained from criminal behaviour."

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Under proceeds of crime legislation we are able to strip loan sharks of their assets leaving them with no power basis to start again. Today’s hearing sends a clear message that we will continue to crack down on this criminal activity which has such a detrimental impact on individuals and communities. The portion of the cash which we receive will be ploughed back into communities and used to help combat this crime through awareness raising and education.

If you or someone you know has been affected by a loan shark, there is help available. Please call us on 0300 555 2222 to speak to a trained investigator in confidence.”  

Nationally the Stop Loan Shark Project has secured more than 300 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 195 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £42 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 23,000 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 about this case contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430.

Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) represents all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board was established by the Government to improve the enforcement of laws intended to tackle rogue traders operating both regionally and nationally who are causing harm to consumers and legitimate businesses. The NTSB issues grants and funds national and regional initiatives such as SCAMBUSTERS, the Illegal Money Lending Team and the e-Crime Unit.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured 309 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 195 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £42 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 23,000 victims.

Funded by the NTSB, the Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams; England, Scotland and Wales. Hosted by Birmingham City Council and working in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities up and down the country, the England Team consists 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. The project piloted in 2004, and expanded in 2007. 

DATE: 17 March 2014