A loan shark who said he charged less interest than Wonga and claimed that “children would go hungry” if borrowers could not turn to him was spared jail.
Samuel Hayes ran an illegal business lending money from his laptop – meticulously recording debtor details on a spreadsheet.
His £ 200,000 racket collapsed after being reported to a loan sharks hotline and his homes in Chappell Road, Droylsden and Court Drive, Failsworth, were raided last November.
Records seized by police revealed that 118 “vulnerable” people in some of the country’s poorest neighborhoods – Newton Heath, Moston and Oldham – were paying him “astronomical” interest rates.
The 53-year-old, who employed three collectors, admitted five illegal counts of lending money and possession of cocaine at Manchester Crown Court.
But when he appeared to get his sentence, Hayes pleaded for leniency, claiming he loaned to those payday lenders Wonga wouldn’t touch, and charged lower interest.
Prosecutor Simon Mortimer told the court that Hayes typically charges an ‘administration fee’ of £ 25 on each loan, plus 70% interest spread over ten weeks, and that if a payment is missed, the value of it. ci was added to the balance.
Arguing that he did not need to go to jail, Hayes ‘attorney Paul Hodgkinson claimed Hayes’ business was “half the size” of Stockport loan shark Alison Wilson. who was imprisoned for eight months.
And, Mr Hodgkinson insisted that Hayes had never used threats or violence against debtors, who came to him as the lender of last resort.
Mr Hodgkinson said: “Legal companies such as Wonga charge an APR above 1000%”,
“Wonga offers payday loans, so people who get loans have to have a salary. Because these people are on benefits, they cannot get credit, and if they lack money, their children are not fed.
“These people have nowhere to turn. I’m not saying he’s some kind of Samaritan, but if they don’t have him, their children are hungry.
Upon conviction, Judge Andrew Blake rejected the “Wonga” defense, saying Hayes had fostered his own cocaine habit by encouraging people to live beyond their means.
He gave her a 12-month sentence, plus a curfew, but suspended his sentence for 18 months after hearing that Hayes’ wife was in the hospital and that there was no one to look after of his two sons-in-law.
The judge said: “I don’t accept that you didn’t target people, I think you targeted vulnerable people. You put temptation before them, and of course, because people are weak, they take it.