JAILED: Vincent Hamilton (Pic: Cheshire Constabulary)
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), working in partnership with Cheshire East Council Trading Standards and Cheshire Constabulary, have secured another successful prosecution against an illegal money lender who was also trading in illicit tobacco products.
Vincent Hamilton, 56, of Badger Avenue, Crewe, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to several offences, including illegal money lending, money laundering and selling illegal tobacco products he had purchased abroad and which did not carry obligatory government health warnings.
He was jailed for 30 months at Chester Crown Court on Friday, 23 August.
During a search of Hamilton’s home in November 2018, officers found illicit cigarettes and tobacco with a retail value of £8,116 and cash totalling £7,580.
Cash found in safe at Hamilton’s home
Hamilton, who had been lending money illegally since 2012, had built up a network of 31 clients, with debts totalling £38,000 for which he charged 30 per cent interest.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks will not be tolerated in Cheshire East and, as this prosecution shows, we are working with trading standards and the police to successfully stamp out this criminality.
“We would urge anyone who has been a victim of this crime, or who may know someone who has, to speak out so that we can take action.”
Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for communities, said: “I would like to thank our trading standards team for their hard work with the illegal money lending team and Cheshire police, in bringing about this successful prosecution.
“Loan sharks cause misery in our communities and their actions must be stamped out. They prey on the vulnerable who then accumulate large debts which they cannot repay. This can result in devastating consequences for the individual and their families.
“Peddling illicit, cheap tobacco products, a practice often linked to organised crime can also have a serious emotional and health impact on the lives of those people who may be trying to give up smoking altogether. It is also a fraud on the taxpayer.
“Cheshire East Council is an enforcing authority and we will continue to work hard to crack down on these unlawful practices.”
Hamilton was told by the judge that he had been motivated by greed.
A Proceeds of Crime timetable was set to recoup any money that Hamilton made from his criminality.
To report a loan shark call the 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or complete a secure form here.