A REDDITCH woman has been sentenced to eight months in prison following a hearing at Worcester Crown Court yesterday (Monday, May 9).
Donna Whyte, 43, of Aldington Close, Lodge Park was investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), working in partnership with Worcestershire Regulatory Services Trading Standards team and West Mercia Police. She pleaded guilty to illegal money lending at an earlier hearing.
Whyte had around 50 regular victims, often with multiple loans each, ranging from £100-£400. She charged 50 per cent interest and had lent out £33,000 from January 2012 until her arrest in March 2015.
The IMLT executed a warrant on the home address of Whyte in March 2015, seizing a mobile phone, documentation and cash.
Upon sentencing, Mr Recorder Desmond said: “You continued to run the business even when in prison for other offences. You used your influence to involve others in the business, collecting payments. On release from prison you demanded at least one customer make up payments missed whilst you were in prison by way of a penalty.
“You have shown no remorse. The Court of Appeal has stated that these offences need a significant sentence to deter this activity which exploits the vulnerable.”
A proceeds of crime timetable has been set.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said: “We are continuing to crack down on illegal money lending and bringing those who break the law to justice. It’s important to remember that loan sharks are only motivated by greed so should never be used.
We would urge anyone with information about loan sharking or victims of loan sharks to contact the team on 0300 555 2222.”
Simon Wilkes, Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services, which delivers Trading Standards on behalf of Worcestershire County Council said: “Loan sharks are a blight on our communities, operating in a number of areas of the County and preying on those in serious financial need and facing hardship. This practice needs to be stamped out and we urge anyone with information about Loan Shark activities to contact the hotline number.”
Loan sharks operate illegally, without the correct permissions from the Financial Conduct Authority. These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment.
Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying.
Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added at random- the highest interest seen by an illegal lender was equivalent to 131,000 per cent APR. In some cases the loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licences and bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 339 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 225 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off over £63.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,500 people.