Devon Loan Shark ordered to repay £315,000 or do more time
A Devon loan shark who preyed on vulnerable people in Torquay and Newton Abbot and took thousands of pounds from his victims has been told to repay the £315,000 in proceeds of crime.
Paul Stretch, 58 of Twickenham Road, Newton Abbot was handed a 2 year and three month prison sentence on the 18th August 2017 following a guilty plea of illegal money lending and money laundering.
During a confiscation hearing at Exeter Crown Court on the 12th April the loan shark has been ordered to repay £315,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002).
In addition to the confiscation order he has also been told to pay the £11,545 in prosecution costs.
The case was initially brought to court and prosecuted by the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) who work in conjunction with the Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards as well as the Devon and Cornwall Police.
When the IMLT initially executed a warrant at the address of Stretch on the 26th January they found documentation containing borrowers details along with electronic details and £3070 in cash. All of which were seized at the point of the warrant execution.
At a previous hearing Prosecutor Simon Mortimer told the court that Paul Stretch had initially been providing loans working as a self employed agent for a legitimate firm in and around the Torbay area of Devon.
However it was during the period of October 2002 and April 2014 whilst working for this organisation that Stretch was made aware he was not allowed to carry out ‘parallel lend’ or conduct consumer credit activities personally without consent from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Further investigations by the IMLT traced £350,000 moving through accounts belonging to Stretch and his wife over a nine year period.
The records that were seized revealed that Stretch specifically targeted people that he was familiar with through his employment with the local, legitimate loans company.
Head of the England Illegal Money Lending team, Tony Quigley said:
The Proceeds of Crime Act ensures that loan sharks like Paul Stretch are not profiting from deceitful illegal money lending activity.
Today’s hearing sends out a clear message that loan sharks who are caught flouting the law will be prosecuted and stripped of their available assets. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Devon and we will continue to work with the council and police to crack down on loan sharks.
If you or someone you know have been the victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.uk.
It is thought that, nationally, illegal money lending teams secure well over 382 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity and have successfully written off over £73.7 million worth of illegal debt, helping over 28,000 people.
You are able to report a loan shark through anyone of the following platforms: