Loan shark Mantas Daujotas aged 38, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, was today sentenced for illegal money lending, money laundering and unlawful possession of identity documents.
The defendant left the country after he was arrested and was extradited from Lithuania to face justice. England Illegal Money Lending Team with valuable support from Staffordshire Police and other law enforcement agencies conducted the investigation.
Daujotas lived in Burton-upon-Trent and kept detailed records of loans and repayments on an electronic device. Ben Mills, prosecuting today at Stafford Crown Court, told the court that Dajoutas made roughly £100,000 a year from vulnerable consumers.
It is estimated that Daujotas, who had previously worked for a legal credit business for 5 years but had no license to lend himself, had at least 260 customers. Investigators found the defendant to be in possession of over 80 documents belonging to other people. These were mainly passports and identity documents but included bank cards and driving licenses, kept as security until the loan was paid off. Ben Mills argued that this caused borrower’s considerable difficulty and increased the pressure on them to repay. In sentencing Dajoutas HHJ J Edwards stated that this gave the lending a level of sophistication.
Financial investigations revealed a significant business with loans of just under £2million with a £450,000 profit between March 2015 and August 2019, which was described in court as an eye watering amount. Most borrowers had multiple loans.
Sentencing Daujotas today, HHJ J Edwardssaid “Your background as an agent gave you an insight into the highly regulated credit industry”, adding that Dajoutas therefore knew he needed a licence to lend money in this way. HHJ Edwards also stated “Individuals such as you thrive and prosper” from “the exploitation of the financially vulnerable” and the enterprise was “highly profitable, large scale and well organised”.
Dajoutas will serve 45 months for money laundering, with a 12 month sentence for illegal money lending to run concurrently, an 8 month sentence for possessing identity documents that did not belong to him to run consecutively and a consecutive 1 month sentence for the bail offence.
A proceeds of crime timetable was set.
Tony Quigley, Manager of England Illegal Money Lending Team said
“This conviction demonstrates our determination to pursue Loan Sharks – gaining an extradition of a criminal from abroad after a complex investigation – across England.
We urge those who have fallen into the trap of borrowing to contact us – we are here to listen and help and you can contact us in several ways no matter how fearful you may be.
These criminals exploit the vulnerability of people who are struggling for money and cause great harm to their health in doing so. In this case the loan shark deprived victims of their freedom to travel, to access their money and to prove their identity to secure profit for himself.
Please do not suffer in silence. Get in touch with us.”
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “Loan-sharking is a terrible crime that affects many of our communities and we work closely with our partners to tackle it.
“These criminals usually prey on vulnerable residents and often intimidate, threaten and trap victims in a cycle of fear and violence. They may seem friendly at first but borrowing from them can have serious consequences.
“We’re pleased with the sentence handed out today and will continue to support partner agencies in taking action against those involved in loansharking.”