A husband and wife team ran a lucrative illegal money lending business in the Stockton area and netted over £500k in loan repayments.
Alan Fromson, 80, and Joyce Fromson, 78 were both sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years at Teesside Crown Court yesterday, November 17.
The pair, both of Greenleas, Carlton, Stockton, pleaded guilty to two charges of illegal money lending between July 2007 and October 2019.
The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Stockton Council Trading Standards and Cleveland Police.
Simon Mortimer, prosecuting, said the pair had left Provident and established their own money lending company called JFA Personal Credit in 1997.
The couple ran a legitimate business until 2007 when they failed to renew their licence to loan money to customers. They did not pay any tax on their earnings during the course of running their illegal business.
Mr Mortimer said they issued loans worth around £382,800, earning £214,044 in interest payments and netting a total of £573,457 over a 12-year period.
Specialist officers from the IMLT executed a search warrant at the couple’s home in October 2019, where evidence and records were seized.
In interview, Alan told investigators “the money goes straight into our pockets and we could get away with it, so we did’ and “we have had a very, very good living out of it”.
The couple explained that they had copied the Provident model and ran their own separate money lending rounds, with Alan operating in the Thornaby area and Joyce in Stillington and Carlton.
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said: “We are continuing to crack down on illegal money lending, which has a hugely detrimental impact on the lives of victims and those around them.
“It is clear that the Fromsons profited greatly at the expense of others but thanks to the information provided to our team, we were able to put an end to their illegal business.
“Illegal money lending will not be tolerated in Teesside and we would urge anyone with information about this crime to come forward and seek support.”
Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said: “Illegal money lenders prey on the most vulnerable in our society so I really welcome these sentences handed out by the court.
“I’d urge people to always remember that no matter how desperate their financial situation becomes, turning to an illegal money lender is never the answer.
“Their terms are often unclear, leaving you in the dark about how much money you actually have to pay.
“Extra interest payments can be added at random, resulting in the amount owed spiralling out of control.
“As people start to think about how they will afford to pay for Christmas this year I’d really recommend they stay away from unscrupulous lenders and get in touch with the Tees Credit Union at www.teescreditunion.co.uk to find out about their services instead.”
To report a loan shark call the 24-hour helpline on 0300 555 2222 or complete an online report form here. All calls and information are treated in the strictest of confidence. Live Chat is available on the website Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.