A man and woman have been ordered to pay back £69,000 after all their available assets were seized by the courts.
Nicholas David Harris, 60, of Maidstone Road, Enfield and his accomplice Chortip Thurahai, 49, of Adine Road, Plaistow, were both handed suspended prison sentences at an earlier hearing on November 2, 2018. They had previously pleaded guilty to illegal money lending and money laundering.
At a confiscation hearing on Friday, 22 February, at Wood Green Crown Court, the defendants were given three months to pay £69,022 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. If they fail to comply, they will both serve default prison sentences. Harris must also pay £3,726 in court costs.
The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) who worked in partnership with Enfield Council and Newham Council trading standards and the Metropolitan Police Service.
As a result of enquiries, a warrant was executed at Harris’ home address on June 13, 2017. During the search a number of items were seized, including loan agreements stored on an iCloud account and mobile phones.
A search was also carried out at Thurahai’s address where documents’ containing evidence and £7,000 in cash were seized.
At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Isabella Crowdy told the court that the defendants had illegally lent money to 11 individuals during the period of September 8, 2015 to June 8, 2017.
The prosecution added that the pair had made thousands of pounds in loan and interest payments.
One victim needed funds for her mother in Thailand, who was suffering from throat cancer.
After she fell behind on repayments, Thurahai and two other women arrived at her door and demanded payment for £851.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said:
“Loan sharks are a blight on society and prey on vulnerable people who struggle to make ends meet and their callous methods will not be tolerated.
“Under proceeds of crime legislation we are able to strip loan sharks of their assets and use the money for community initiatives which will help combat this crime and protect the public.
“We would always urge victims of illegal money lenders to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222.”
An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt.
Cllr James Beckles, Newham Council cabinet member for crime and community safety said:
“This is a great result for our trading standards team. I am determined to drive loan sharks out of this borough, and out of business. I would also urge residents to avoid loan sharks at all costs, if you have financial worries, or are facing debt, the Newham council’s MoneyWorks team can help with affordable loans, advice and support.”
Cllr Guney Dogan, Cabinet Member for Environment at Enfield Council said:
“Sadly, many people are tempted to borrow from loan sharks to make ends meet and as seen in this case, illegal money lenders are experts at preying on the desperate and vulnerable. Enfield Council’s Trading Standards officers and our partner colleagues consistently demonstrate hard work and dedication in helping to prevent Illegal loan sharks from spreading their pervasive influence in our borough.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 380 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 330 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £73.7 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 28,000 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.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject