London,
28
January
2010
|
00:00
Europe/London

Loan Shark caught and netted by Trading Standards

A woman who acted as a loan shark to 34 people in Hackney’s Congolese community has been sentenced to 150 community services at Isleworth Crown Court on January 29 2010.

Tango Lutula of Corsley Way, Hackney ran her illegal money lending business from March 2007, lending an average of £700, the largest loan being for £4,000. She charged 35% interest and added a 10 per cent charge to the remaining amount every time a weekly payment was missed. According to her records over a two year period she lent 45 loans with a total value of over £33,000 pounds.

Lutula was investigated and prosecuted by the London Trading Standards illegal money lending team in partnership with Trading Standards Officers from Hackney Council. She pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to illegal money lending and a charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Her home was searched by the Illegal Money Lending team in April 2009 and documents including €12,000 euros in cash and over £6,000 of high quality gold jewellery was found.

One of her victims said: “I found her number in a local church. I had to do without food and things to pay (her). It was a very bad experience.”

In sentencing, His Honour Judge Collender QC said that Ms Lutula “lent to those who were most vulnerable – desperate for money – and preyed on this vulnerability as part of a despicable business.”

Cllr Alan Laing, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods said: “This person illegally preyed on people in financial need for her own gain. Her illegal operations threw families, who were already struggling to keep their heads above water in a recession, into greater hardship without a legal safety net. It must have taken a lot of courage for local people to report this loan shark who was operating from inside their own community.”

Hackney Homes will hold a Residents’ Open Day on 18 February 2010 from 12-6pm at the Ocean. The event includes a “Money Zone” where all residents can find out about money, benefits and their legal entitlements from Hackney-based organisations, charities and support services.

Ends

Useful Money Contacts

For financial help contact the Hackney Credit Union: www.hackneycreditunion.co.uk or telephone: 020 8986 6868.

The London Illegal Money Lending Team: call the 24/7 confidential hotline: 0300 555 2222 or email: reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk

Hackney Trading Standards: call: 020 8356 4929 or email: info@hackney.gov.uk
Consumer Direct: email: http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/ or call: 0845 04 05 06
The Financial Services Authority: email: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/