Colin Devereux. Pic: West Midlands Police
A Coventry man has been jailed for operating as a loan shark for the past seven years.
Colin Devereux, 52, of Deedmore Road, was sentenced to 22 months in prison at Warwick Crown Court on Thursday, 1 August after pleading guilty to two counts of illegal money lending.
He was also given three months to pay £100,000 or face a further 12 months behind bars under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The loan shark was arrested in December 2018 following a warrant by the England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with West Midlands Police and Coventry City Council, in which cash and documentation was seized.
During a search of his home, officers recovered more than 100 loan records which presented names, outstanding balances, repayments and top-ups.
£9,000 in cash was found stashed under a bedroom carpet and in a kitchen drawer.
The court heard that the defendant admitted charging 40 per cent interest on all loans in an interview.
Simon Mortimer, prosecuting, said Devereux had been involved in the operation of an illegal money lending business since August 2011.
It is estimated that he would have received £154,000 in repayments if he collected from all his customers in that period.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable people in our communities and this case reinforces the message that illegal money lending will not be tolerated and we will prosecute anyone we believe is exploiting borrowers.
“We hope this considerable sentence serves as a deterrent to others involved in this type of criminality and raises awareness within the local community about the dangers of using a loan shark.”
Councillor Abdul Salam Khan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities at Coventry City Council, said: “Illegal money lending leads to misery for many people and I am pleased that, together with our partners, and with help from the general public we are working to bring these criminals to justice.
“At the same time, I’d like to remind people that there are agencies across the city who work hard to provide support on personal budgeting, and I’d encourage people to get in touch to find out what help is available.”
An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark. These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt.
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences.
They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.
To report a loan shark call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or complete a secure form here.