BIRMINGHAM. — A Birmingham carer who paid out £350 000 in illegal loan shark deals — and then charged 20 percent interest — has been jailed.
Greedy Tecla Bandawe, dished out 1 000 separate loans to at least 60 people, even though she was not authorised to do so by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Bandawe, a 44-year-old Zimbabwean national, was employed as a carer and was a member of a WhatsApp group with fellow Zimbabweans from across the country.
Earlier this year, a tip-off was made to a hotline run by the England Ilegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and an investigation was launched.
Messages were uncovered which were said to be linked to her lending.
She charged between 10 and 20 percent interest on each capital advance, with loans being usually for between one and four weeks.
Simon Mortimer, prosecuting, told Birmingham Crown Court on Friday, that a warrant was executed at Bandawe’s home in Soho Road, Handsworth, in March this year after allegations were made via the IMLT’s confidential hotline that she was operating as an illegal money lender.
They found that from 2020, Bandawe received over £375 000 in payments into her bank accounts over the period, thought to be loan repayments.
Recorder Balraj Bhatia KC said the people who took the loans out were clearly financially vulnerable.
After taking into account Bandawe’s previous good character and guilty plea, he sentenced her to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months.
Speaking after the hearing, the head of the England IMLTeam, Tony Quigley, said:
“This is an example of someone who targeted a specific community, pretending to be a friend offering a service, when in fact she was exploiting the vulnerable.
“We would always advise those who need access to affordable credit but who may not be eligible through mainstream banks to look at credit unions as an alternative.
“We will continue to work to rid our communities of these predatory illegal lenders who make money from those who can least afford it.”
Coun Philip Davis, chair of Birmingham City Council’s licensing and public protection committee, said:
“Illegal money lenders prey on the vulnerable so it’s good to see a criminal lender brought to justice. Loan sharks create misery. The city council will continue to work with the national Illegal Money Lending Team to tackle this crime.”
The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in partnership with Birmingham City Council Trading Standards and West Midlands Police. — Birmingham Mail.