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A Suffolk loan shark, who targeted vulnerable adults been sentenced to 6 months in prison, suspended for two years, as well as being ordered to pay £2200 costs following a hearing at Ipswich Crown Court today. He also disclaimed any right to £10,000 cash.
57 year old Michael Szyptma, of Elm Tree Road in Lowestoft was investigated and prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, working in partnership with Suffolk Trading Standards.
At an earlier hearing Szyptma admitted running the illegal business from a shop in the centre of Lowestoft, for 11 years.
In September last year, the IMLT, assisted by Suffolk Police Area Intelligence Officers, executed a warrant at the loan shark’s home and business premise. During the search they seized cash and found documentation revealing loans had been dealt out to around 30 people. Spytzma was arrested and subsequently charged with illegal money lending and proceeds of crime offences.
Targeting those who were unable to access legitimate credit, Szyptma operated without a licence, lending money to people who visited the ‘Sound and Vision’ DVD and CD shop in Station Square.
He would befriend his victims, before lending them money. He would also sell them DVD’s or clothes, or offer to do their shopping for them, charging interest on top.
On behalf of the prosecution Mr Mortimer told the court that the APR charged by Szyptma would be over 100,000% and how Szyptma retained victim’s cash cards and pin numbers so he was able to withdraw money for himself, leaving victims with very little to live on.
Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said “Illegal money lending is a crime and will not be tolerated. Loan sharks often prey on vulnerable people, leaving them in misery and fear and with very little to get by on. If anyone is a victim of a loan shark, or knows of someone who is, we would urge you to speak to us in confidence, as we can help. Our hotline number is 0300 555 2222”
After the hearing Reg Ruffles, Assistant County Trading Standards Officer, said: “This is a fantastic result for the illegal money-lending team, and demonstrates why partnerships like this are so important to the work of Suffolk Trading Standards. This sentencing will send a stark warning to anyone who is carrying out the same thing that we will find you and we will act fast to protect the vulnerable people you are exploiting.”
Nationally the illegal money lending teams have secured over 190 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 107 years worth of custodial sentences. They have written of almost £39 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
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks