Loan shark jailed for three years
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A loan shark has been jailed for three years at Manchester Crown Court.
Sandra Dawn Lowe, of Arnott Street, Hulme was convicted of 16 counts of illegal money lending and money laundering. She had been running the illegal business for more than seven years.
The 51-year-old was arrested in July 2012 when officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team executed a warrant at her home. During the search they found notebooks with details of her illicit business and nearly £800 in cash.
Lowe lent money with very little paperwork and was often unclear on the terms of the loan or how much would be expected to be repaid.
One victim ended up paying back around £125,000 over a period of seven years, after borrowing around £30,000.
Victims described how they “went to pieces” with the stress and frustration of having to constantly repay. Some were failing to pay their bills.
Some victims even handed over their bank cards and PINs in order for Lowe to withdraw directly from their accounts.
The crook admitted she had loaned money to people but denied charging interest.
Upon sentencing, Judge Rudland said: “You advanced loans with no assessment as to whether people could pay. The victims had no idea of their indebtedness to you.
"They saw you as a lifelong friend but you were ready to exploit them while benefiting yourself. Victims were robbing Peter to pay Paul, and you were taking advantage of this. This exploitation would have carried on indefinitely.
"Those who you exploited were vulnerable and their distress was evident. The sentence must be significant to deter others.”
Councillor Kate Chappell, Manchester City Council's executive member for the environment, said: "Today's sentencing shows that the net is tightening on loan sharks and they can no longer get away with benefiting from the misery they cause to some of the most vulnerable members of society.
"I'd urge anyone who knows about a loan shark to contact the illegal money lending team in confidence, while anyone who needs to borrow money should contact one of Manchester's many credit unions."
Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Lowe was described by one of her victim’s as” In the business of robbing friends” and this case exemplifies how loan sharks can appear to be helping people out, when in fact they are exploiting them for their own financial gain."