An illegal money lender who also traded in illicit tobacco products has been jailed following an investigation led by the Cheshire East Council’s trade standards team.
Vincent Hamilton’s black market operations were halted after council agents worked in partnership with England’s illegal money lending team and the Cheshire Police.
Hamilton, 56, of Badger Avenue, Crewe, who had been lending money illegally since 2012, had built up a network of 31 clients, with debts totaling Â£ 38,000 for which he was charging 30% interest.
He had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to several offenses, including the loan of illegal money, money laundering and the sale of illegal tobacco products that he had purchased abroad that did not involve mandatory government health warnings.
He was sentenced to 30 months in prison for illegal money lending and fraudulent trading when he appeared in court in Chester on Friday 23 August.
Councilor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council Community Cabinet Member, said: âI would like to thank our Business Standards team for their hard work with the Illegal Money Lending Team and the Cheshire Police, to complete this pursuit.
âReady sharks cause misery in our communities and their actions must be eradicated. They attack vulnerable people who then accumulate large debts that they cannot repay. This can have devastating consequences for the individual and his family.
âThe trafficking of illicit and inexpensive tobacco products, a practice often linked to organized crime, can also have a serious emotional and health impact on the lives of people who try to quit smoking altogether. It is also a fraud for the taxpayer.
“The Cheshire East Council is an enforcement authority and we will continue to work hard to crack down on these illegal practices.”
Tony Quigley, Head of England’s Illegal Money Lending Team, said: âLoan sharks will not be tolerated. They only cause misery for their victims, leaving borrowers trapped in growing debt.
“We urge anyone who has been a victim of this crime, or who may know someone who has, to speak up so that we can take action.”
During a search of Hamilton’s home in November 2018, officers found illicit cigarettes and tobacco with a retail value of Â£ 8,116 and cash totaling Â£ 7,580.
Hamilton was told by the judge that he had been motivated by greed.
If you are aware of any illegal money lending activity, call the confidential 24 hour hotline on 0300 555 2222 or text 07860 022116. You can also visit: www.stoploansharks.co. uk