Hundred grand loan shark from South Norwood jailed after preying on vulnerable
A loan shark who preyed on vulnerable people and locked them into debts of tens of thousands of pounds has been jailed for 20 months.
Julian Douglas, of Dinsdale Garsdens, South Norwood, used threats and intimidation to ensure repayments through his illegal money-lending businesses between November 2009 and May this year.
Police who searched the 43-year-old's property in May found evidence of £115,000-worth of loans illegally granted to 24 people.
Last month, appearing at Croydon Crown Court, he admitted illegal money lending, money laundering and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
He was sentenced today. 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.
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 6000%."
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.
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