Loan shark from Newham spared jail over £200,000 money lending racket

Wood Green Crown Court. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Images

Wood Green Crown Court. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Two loan sharks who stood to pocket tens of thousands of pounds in an illegal money lending racket have been spared jail.

Chortip Thurahai, 48, and Nicholas Harris, 59, lent nearly £158,000 to vulnerable people including a woman who needed the money to help her sick mother.

The pair was due to rake in more than £83,500 from desperate borrowers in interest payments alone.

Thurahai, of Adine Road, Plaistow, was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, on Friday, November 2 after pleading guilty to illegal money lending and money laundering offences at an earlier hearing. He also received a six-month curfew order.

Harris, of Maidstone Road, Enfield, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years, following similar guilty pleas. He must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work as well.

Wood Green Crown Court heard how the duo handed out illicit loans to 11 people between September 2015 to June 2017.

One victim needed funds for her mother in Thailand, who was suffering from throat cancer.

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After she fell behind on her repayments, Thurahai and two other women arrived at her door and demanded £851.

Their scheme was scuppered following a joint investigation by the Met, Newham Council’s Trading Standards team, Enfield Council and the Birmingham-based Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT).

Officers seized loan agreements stored on an iCloud account, mobile phones and £7,000 in cash following searches of the pair’s homes.

Speaking after the sentencing, Tony Quigley, the head of the IMLT’s branch in England, said Thurahai and Harris’s victims were some of estimated 310,000 households nationwide trapped “into a spiral of debt” by illegal money lenders.

“Loan sharks are criminals who prey on vulnerable people and blight communities,” he said.

“This result sends a clear message that illegal money lending will not be tolerated and those caught flouting the law will be brought to justice.”

Deputy mayor of Newham Charlene McLean said the criminal duo exploited added: “Two criminal loan sharks who exploit the most vulnerable in our society have been put out of business.”