A loan shark who pocketed more than £300,000 by charging “up to 50 per cent interest” has been jailed.
Keith Riley, 56, of Crabtree Road in Thornton, was sentenced to nine months behind bars after pleading guilty to illegal money lending and money laundering offences at Preston
He was caught after a tip off to a national taskforce hotline, which led to a raid at his home by police and the county council’s trading standards team.
“Loan sharks are ruthless criminals who exploit some of the most vulnerable members of society,” Tony Quigley, the head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said. “I hope this case serves as a deterrent to potential loan sharks that crime really does not pay and justice may extend beyond a prison sentence to an order depriving them of the profits of their illegal activity.”
During a search of Riley’s home on Wednesday, January 23, documents were found that identified 35 regular borrowers and £305,778 in repayments.
Prosecutor Simon Mortimer told the court Riley had been working as a loan shark since January 2015 and was charging up to 50 per cent interest, with one victim repaying £15,310 on an £8,500 loan.
County Coun Albert Atkinson, the county hall’s trading standards boss, said he was “glad to see another loan shark has been brought to justice”, and said: “Illegal money lending is an often hidden problem which has a terrible impact on our communities, leaving vulnerable people in financial difficulty.
“It is notable that Riley was caught following a tip-off, which should be taken as a warning that this activity is not something people in Lancashire will tolerate.”
Sentencing Riley, who was told to pay back all his available assets – worth £61,100 – within three months or face another year in prison, Recover Reiz referred to the case as “unsophisticated lending to colleagues and friends, with profit over four years and charging high interest rates”.
Call the loan shark hotline on 0300 555 22 22.