A loan shark from Gillingham has been ordered to pay back £55,000 in ill-gotten gains.
Ian Carroll, 59, was sentenced to 16 months in prison in September last year after pleading guilty to two counts of illegal money lending and one of money laundering.
At a hearing at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday, Carroll, formerly of Nelson Road, was given three months to pay the money or face a default sentence of an extra 11 months in prison.
Mr Carroll was investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) who worked in partnership with Medway Council’s trading standards department and Kent Police.
When his home was searched in September 2015, IMLT officers recovered a number of payment cards containing names, amounts and dates, as well as over £1,000 in cash.
Financial investigations found he had issued a total of 282 loans to 71 people over three years, fleecing them out of £200,000 with his criminal interest rates.
The loan shark claimed more than £191,000 in repayments, demanding his customers pay at least double what they had borrowed.
One woman, who was paying him more than £450 a month, said she met the 58-year-old 10 years ago when he worked for a legitimate company as a debt collector.
But Carroll told her he could do her a better deal on electrical appliances, and since then she had purchased ‘loads of goods’.
Another victim bought a £400 cooker from him and made a year’s worth of repayments at £36 a month.
When she said she had paid more than what the cooker was worth, he replied "you’ve still got a long way to go".
The victim made 21 repayments totalling £756 and understood the payments were due to be for three years, totalling £1,296.
Prosecutor Craig Evans told the court how Carroll’s interest rates were extremely high and were either related to the supply of cash or home electrical goods such as cookers, fridges and televisions.
Most agreements were done verbally without anything put in writing or signed for and Carroll issued borrowers with payment cards which would be amended each week to show the repayments being made and the balance outstanding.
This would be torn up once the loan had been repaid, meaning that no paper trail was left in place.
Cllr Jane Chitty, head of trading standards at Medway Council, said: “Sometimes people who are struggling to manage their debt turn to loan sharks for help; however this can lead to long-term debt and sky-high interest rates that can spiral out of control.
“Our trading standards team works closely with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to raise awareness of illegal money lenders and to encourage victims to come forward.
“Thanks to their continued efforts, another offender has been identified and prosecuted.
“There are a number of professional agencies which offer free, confidential and independent advice on debt problems and I would encourage anyone who thinks they are a victim of an illegal money lender to report it to the team.”
Tony Quigley, from the IMLT added: “Another loan shark has been ordered to pay back for the crime that they once committed.
“We are continuing to crack down on illegal money lending and bringing those who break the law to justice. It’s important to remember that loan sharks are only motivated by greed and should never been used.
“If you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch with IMLT. Your call will be handled confidentially by one of our trained officers.”
To report a loan shark, call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 or text a report to 078600 22116, or visit the Stop Loan Sharks website.