NW- 54- Mills Sentencing

Illegal Money Lending Team
Working with Trading Standards – funded by BIS
Ref: NW-54-Mills Sentencing
Date: Friday 16th June 2011
Sentencing of a loan shark for “Ruthless
exploitation of the vulnerable”
Whilst an East Manchester loan shark who targeted vulnerable adults has today
been sentenced to fourteen months imprisonment, a victim’s relative has spoken
out about the impact this has had on her family.
Winston Mills 41 from Openshawe admitted illegal money lending and money
laundering at an earlier hearing. He was investigated and prosecuted by the
England Illegal Money Lending Team.
The woman, who does not wish to be named contacted the Team through the
confidential hotline after she discovered Mills was lending money to members of
her family. Mills retained their post office cards, and walked with them to the post
office so they could withdraw all or nearly all of their benefits, leaving them with
very little to get by on.
She said “The way this loan shark operated was shockingly awful, I believe he
targeted my family as he knew they would keep repaying him. He left them with
absolutely nothing”
On behalf of the prosecution, Jennifer Bleuitt, told the Manchester Crown Court
how Mills ran an illegal money lending business for five years, giving small, short
term loans, to residents in a privately owed block of flats.
Mills was previously cautioned for illegal money lending, following an investigation
by the Illegal Money Lending Team. On this occasion he admitted giving out loans
but denied charging interest.
On Monday 14th March this year, following further information that Mills was
continuing to lend money, the Team executed a warrant at his home. They seized
£525 in cash which was hidden under the carpet and a piece of paper detailing
names and amounts.
Upon sentencing, His Lord Judge Gilbert QC described Mill’s behaviour as
“Ruthless exploitation of the vulnerable”
The victim’s relative spoke of how important it is for people to come forward if they
are aware of illegal money lending taking place “I am glad I contacted the Team, as
justice has now been served. I think it’s important for all our local agencies to be
working together to look out for people, who may be borrowing from illegal money
lenders. I understand how hard it can be to have the courage to report loan sharks
but if anyone else, is in the same position as I was and knows of someone who is
trapped in this situation, I would encourage them to get in touch with the Team ”
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “As today’s
sentencing shows, we will bring illegal money lenders who prey on vulnerable
people within our communities to justice. Loan sharks are motivated by greed and
often trap people into spiralling debt, with extortionate rates of interest and extra
charges. We would ask people to look out for key signs which indicate a lender is
unlicensed such as lack of paperwork, and contact us if they believe they or
someone they know is the victim of an illegal money lender. Our confidential hotline
is open 24/7 on 0300 555 2222”
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council's executive member for the
environment, said: “Loan sharks like Mills target the most vulnerable members of
society, and I urge anyone who knows about this despicable crime to help put a
stop to this by reporting their activity in confidence.”
Anyone in need of a loan should contact credit unions, such as the Manchester
Credit Union by visiting www.manchestercreditunion.co.ukor calling 0161 231
The England Illegal Money Lending Team forms part of the Stop Loan Sharks
Project, who have secured more than 190 prosecutions for illegal money lending
and related activity leading to prison sentences in excess of 107 years. Almost £40
million worth of illegal debt has been written off and over 16,000 victims have been
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003
E-mail [email protected]
Log-on to www.direct.gov.uk/stoploansharks
Note to editors: Funded by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the
Stop Loan Sharks project consists of three Illegal money lending teams; England,
Scotland and Wales. Working in partnership with local Trading Standards
Authorities up and down the country, the England Team consists of specialist
officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity
and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of
borrowing from illegal money lenders. The project piloted in 2004, and expanded in
2007. So far the team have secured more than 180 prosecutions leading to
custodial sentences in excess of 107 years.
Sarah-Jane Lynch – Communications Officer
Illegal Money Lending Team – Trading Standards
Telephone: 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119
E-mail: [email protected]