Tooting ‘loan shark’ jailed for illegal money lending
Published: 6 August 2018
A 38-year-old man from Tooting has been jailed for 13 months for fleecing cash from vulnerable people through his illegal money lending operation.
Bradley Belloni from Chasefield Road was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to offences of lending money without a licence and money laundering.
The court heard that by charging exorbitant rates of interest, he was able to pocket more than £700,000 from the often vulnerable and desperate people who borrowed from him.
Those illicit profits could now be seized with prosecutors set to launch recovery action against him under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The court heard that Mr Belloni lent money illegally between September 2014 and July 2017.
He had previously worked for online pay day loan companies before branching out on his own as an illegal and unlicensed lender.
Over the course of that three year period he netted more than £726,000 from 135 victims.
But in July 2017 he was caught in a joint operation involving Wandsworth Council’s trading standards team, The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and the Metropolitan Police.
A raid on his home address recovered paperwork and electronic devices including mobile phones which contained clear evidence of illegal lending and money laundering.
Sentencing him to 13 months imprisonment Judge Timothy Lamb QC told Mr Belloni: “You pursued your business for three years with no regulatory authorisation. You knew full well what you were doing was against the law and you preyed on the vulnerable for your own purposes. Your case was persistent deliberate law breaking and you charged high levels of interest.”
Wandsworth Council’s community safety spokesman Cllr Guy Senior said: “This case highlights the hard work and determination of our trading standards officers and the Illegal Money Lending Team to tackle the criminal and exploitative behaviour of loan sharks.
“These illicit back street money lenders pose a serious threat to the desperate and vulnerable people they prey on. They trap their victims into spiralling levels of debt and in the more extreme cases will use intimidation, threats and even violence to force their victims to pay up. That is why it’s important we do everything we can to put a stop to their criminal activities.”
Tony Quigley, Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, added: “This result sends a clear message that loan sharks caught flouting the law will be pursued and prosecuted. This sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in London boroughs and we will continue to work with our council and police partners to eliminate illegal money lending in communities.
“We urge anyone affected by loan sharks to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222 or report online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. All calls are strictly confidential and you can remain anonymous.”
An estimated 310,000 households nationally are borrowing from illegal money lenders, many of whom charge exorbitant rates of interest to trap people into a spiral of debt.
In Wandsworth the council has helped set up a local credit union so that people on low incomes who find themselves excluded from mainstream banks and credit companies can obtain a safe and ethical loan. Wandsworth Plus Credit Union provides a legal alternative to loan sharks and give residents access to affordable loans and secure savings. For more information call (020) 7471 2620 or visit www.wandsworthpluscu.co.uk.
The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist 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.
To report a loan shark:
• Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
• Text a report to 078600 22116
• Visit the website www.stoploansharks.uk
• Email email@example.com
• Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject