Loan shark who lent half a million pounds is sentenced

A woman who ran an illegal money lending business in south London, lending almost half a million pounds and making thousands of pounds profit, has been sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years.

Inner London Crown Court

Sophia Carandang, aged 57, appeared before Inner London Crown Court on Friday (Oct 6) after admitting illegal money lending, mostly in the Roehampton area.

The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in partnership with Wandsworth Borough Council Trading Standards and Metropolitan Police.

Mr Tom Dunn, prosecuting, told the court that a warrant was executed at Carandang’s home in Clem Atlee Court, Fulham, in 2018, when business records, loan documents, payment cards and electronic devices were seized.

Investigations by the IMLT found that Carandang had been operating an illegal money lending business from 2014. She had made over 300 loans, varying from £200 to £6,000, to around 106 borrowers.

The court heard that the total sum of the loans was almost half a million pounds, netting a profit of almost £90,000 in interest for Carandang.

A standard interest rate of 20% was applied, equating to a typical APR of 86.9% on all but a few of the loans.

Recorder Nigel Peters KC said there were no harassment or threats, but the case involved a substantial amount of Interest over a long period of time and the case had crossed the custody threshold.

But he said he had taken into account Carandang’s previous good character and guilty plea.

A proceeds of crime timetable was set.

Speaking after the hearing, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Tony Quigley, said: “This illegal money lender was able to operate for several years, offering loans to financially vulnerable members of the community. We will continue to work with our partners across England to target these illegal lenders and protect and support those who find themselves in need of affordable credit.

“There are options available such as credit unions. We would urge anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by an illegal lender in this way to get in touch with our team in confidence.”

Anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by a loan shark can contact the IMLT for specialist help in advice in a number of ways.

They can call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222; text a report to 078600 22116, email reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or send a private message on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject.

There is also a live chat facility on the website stoploansharks.co.uk.