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Surrey loan shark pleads guilty

Please find below a release on behalf of the England Illegal Money Lending Team. 

A Surrey woman has admitted running an illegal money lending business, following an investigation by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, working in partnership with Surrey County Council Trading Standards.

Rowena Santos, aged 51, appeared at Guildford Crown Court on Friday and pleaded guilty to running the illegal business from her home in Pondfield Road, Godalming since 2002.

She is due to be sentenced on Wednesday 25th January at Guildford Crown Court.

Santos was arrested when officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team executed a warrant at her home in October 2010. She made full admissions in interview about the illegal business, telling officers she lent to 18 ‘customers’ within the local Filipino community.

Santos operated an unlicensed business and used a practise known as ‘renting the loan’, she loaned borrowers amounts ranging between £600 and £7000, and charged 5% interest at regular intervals until they were able to repay the loan in full.

Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member Community Safety, said: “Loan sharks prey on the poor and vulnerable whose desperation makes them an easy target. The credit crunch may tempt people to turn to illegal money lenders but it’s not worth the risk. Interest payments can be sky high, making difficult financial situations even worse.”

Nationally the Illegal Money Lending Team’s have secured over 190 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 117 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written of almost £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 16,000 victims.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
Find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

Ends

Note to editors: Funded by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Stop Loan Sharks project consists of three Illegal money lending teams; England, Scotland and Wales. Working in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities up and down the country, the England Team consists of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders. The project piloted in 2004, and expanded in 2007. So far the team have secured more than 190 prosecutions leading to custodial sentences in excess of 117 years.

For more information contact:

Sarah-Jane Lynch – Communications Officer Illegal Money Lending Team – Trading Standards

Telephone: 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119
E-mail:  sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk

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