Siblings sentenced over £330k illegal money lending racket

SENTENCED: Mary Wilding and John Mulvey

A brother and sister who raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds from illegal money lending have been sentenced.

Following a hearing at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday, February 13, John Mulvey, 54 of Greyhound Lane, Lambeth, and Mary Wilding, 68, of Limpsfield Road, South Croydon, were sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years respectively.

They both pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal money lending at an earlier hearing.

In addition to their suspended sentences, Mulvey was given a four-month curfew and 200 hours of unpaid work. Wilding also received a six-month curfew from 8pm to 6am.

The siblings were investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), in partnership with Croydon Council and Lambeth Council Trading Standards Departments and the Metropolitan Police

On December 15, 2017, warrants were executed at the home addresses of both loan sharks.

IMLT officers recovered a quantity of documentation demonstrating illegal money lending activity.

The search of Mulvey’s address unearthed over £9,000 in cash, of which £8,400 was found in a safe along with loan agreements and loan books. A further £2,430 and loan records were seized at Wilding’s home.  

Cash bundles found in safe at John Mulvey’s home

Simon Mortimer, prosecuting, told the court that documentation recovered from their homes revealed that 404 loans, valued at over £334,000 had been provided to 53 regular borrowers since 2013.

Cash seized during illegal money lending raids

Victims were charged 25% interest on loans and told to keep the agreement secret.

The prosecution added that the siblings used their initials ‘JMMW Savings and Loans Ltd’ and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme logo on documents to mislead potential borrowers into believing that the loans were lawful. 

One victim received loans from Wilding in her capacity as an agent for a legitimate loans company.

In August 2014 she was in financial difficulty and unable to obtain a loan due to her poor credit rating. She was approached by Wilding who told her she was no longer working as an agent but had set up a loans company with her brother.

The victim borrowed £1,000 and agreed to repay with 25% interest at the rate of £50 per week. On several occasions she was told by Wilding to keep the loans secret.

It was established that neither defendant had been licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) or approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to undertake the regulated activity of providing loans.

Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “This is a great result for the victims who came forward and it should give communities in London the confidence that we will help and continue to bring these loan sharks to justice.

“I would encourage any resident with information on loan shark activity to report it via the confidential hotline, so we can take action and remove unscrupulous lenders from our communities.”

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 Hamida Ali, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for Safer Croydon and Communities said: “Illegal money lenders prey on vulnerable people and the extortionate interest rates they charge means desperate people spiral further into debt. I’d urge any Croydon resident with information on loan shark activity to report it.”

Cllr Paul Gadsby, Lambeth Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, said: “I welcome this conviction. Loan sharking is a blight on our community that often impacts on those with least. It is unacceptable and we are determined to support all efforts to put an end to this criminal offending.”

A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation timetable was set out by the court to recover the gains the siblings made.

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 394 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 480 years’ worth of custodial sentences.

They have written off £74.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 29,000 people.

To report a loan shark, call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222, text a report to 078600 22116 or complete an online form here.