TWO illegal money lenders from Hampshire have been ordered to pay back £195,000 in proceeds of crime money otherwise they risk facing more time behind bars.
Kevin Colin White, 57, of Bramdean Drive and Adrian James Dowse, 46, of Botley Drive, appeared in Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday, 19th September) for a proceeds of crime hearing.
The defendants were given three months to pay back the lump sum of money otherwise they both risk facing more time behind bars for non-payment.
White and Dowse were both jailed for two years and nine months in November 2016 for running an illegal money lending business worth thousands of pounds.
At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Lee Bennett told the court how the defendants had been supplying cash loans and motor vehicles on credit for a period of two and a half years.
The defendants were investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) who work in partnership with Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards department and Hampshire Constabulary.
When warrants were executed at the homes of both defendants in October 2015, IMLT officers seized documentation evidencing loans and repayments being made, as well as £12,000 in cash.
When further warrants were executed at the defendants’ homes in February 2016, additional documentation and cash (£3,000) were seized.
The prosecution told the court how recovered records showed a flat rate of interest of between 20% and 50% being charged on loans.
In conjunction with the illegal money lending activity, White and Dowse were also selling cars on credit and issuing loans to cover the repayment.
During the execution of the first warrant at Kevin White’s home in October 2015, eighteen sets of car keys were recovered by IMLT officers. Thirteen sets of keys were identified as relating to vehicles that had already been sold to customers, but had been retained.
The prosecution said the reason for retaining the second set of keys was to either enable the lender to continue to exercise an influence over the victim or, in the event of default, enable recovery of the vehicle.
Prosecutor Mr Bennett told the court how victims had been unaware of this arrangement because of the lack of clarity given by the defendants.
Some victims were hit by penalties for non-payments and did not know what their outstanding balance was on their loan as no documentation was given to them.
When sentencing White and Dowse, Her Honour Judge Ackner described the operation as being a ‘cash rich business’ and told the defendants that they had not been open or fair to borrowers who were ‘financially disadvantaged’.
Her Honour Judge Ackner went on to tell the defendants that their ‘active and fully operational’ business would have in no doubt continued if officers had not intervened.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“The Proceeds of Crime Act ensures that loan sharks like White and Dowse are not profiting from deceitful illegal money lending activity.
“This result sends out a clear message that loan sharks who are caught flouting the law will be prosecuted and stripped of their available assets. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Hampshire and we will continue to work with the police and local authority to crack down on loan sharks.
“If you or someone you know has been the victim of a loan shark, please call the IMLT on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.uk.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 328 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £72.5 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 27,000 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject