Lowestoft loan shark to be sentenced

A LOWESTOFT shopkeeper who targeted vulnerable people for his own personal gain will be sentenced later this month for running an illegal money-lending business from his town centre store.

Michael Szyptma, 57, ran a 'loan shark' operation for 11 years from his DVD and CD shop Sound and Vision, now based in Station Square.

He was arrested following a joint investigation by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and Suffolk Trading Standards.

Szyptma, of Elm Tree Road, Lowestoft, pleaded guilty last month to lending money without a licence and he is due to be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on May 27.

Noemi Byrd, prosecuting for the IMLT, told April's hearing at Ipswich Crown Court that Szyptma befriended victims unable to access legitimate credit and lent them money with interest from his shop. But he took advantage of them by taking their bank cards and pin numbers so he could withdraw the money himself, leaving victims with little to live on.

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Szyptma would also sell DVDs and clothes to his victims or do their shopping for them, charging interest on the transactions.

Last September, search warrants were executed by the IMLT, assisted by Suffolk police's area intelligence officers at Szpytma's home and his shop in Station Square.

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During the search, documentation was found detailing loans given to about 30 people, along with more than �22,000 in cash.

The lack of formal business records made it impossible to say how much he made.

Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: 'As this case proves, illegal money lenders will prey on vulnerable people for their own gain. Many illegal lenders trap people into a spiral of debt, leaving their victims struggling to pay for basics.

'We urge anyone who is the victim of an illegal lender, or who knows of someone who is, to contact us in complete confidence on 0300 555 2222'

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