‘Oldest Loan Shark in the UK’ ordered to pay over £173,000 by Cardiff Court

An 83-year-old loan shark has been ordered to pay back over £173,000 of her ill-gotten gains, with more than £35,000 returned to her victims in compensation.

Tabitha Richardson, from Newport, will have to sell her home to raise the funds a Proceeds of Crime Hearing at Cardiff Crown Court was told yesterday (April 29). If the money isn’t paid back within three months she potentially faces 21 months in prison.

The case came to light in August 2020, when Richardson’s property in Nash Road, Newport, was raided by officers working for Stop Loan Sharks Wales. £6,500 in cash was found in a safe which had to be broken open by a locksmith, as well as bank books, lending books, files, and other paperwork.

An investigation was launched which resulted in Richardson pleading guilty to illegal money lending, engaging in an activity requiring a licence, carrying out a regulated activity when not authorised or exempt, and money laundering.

Despite Richardson’s age, it became clear during the investigation that if payments were missed by her victims, threatening and menacing messages would be sent, charging £400 interest on every £1000 she loaned on a 28-day loan.

During sentencing in August last year, Recorder Benjamin Blakemore told Richardson she had avoided an immediate custodial sentence "by a whisker". He said she had "ran roughshod" over regulations and legislation to protect borrowers and described messages to her victims as "threatening and menacing to a degree".

A spokesperson for the Shared Regulatory Services said, “Whilst we thought that Tabitha Richardson wouldn’t be given an immediate custodial sentence due to her age, what we do know is the best way to deal with these matters, is to hit them hard in the pocket and recover as much money as possible from their illegal activities.

“Loan sharks are often stereotypically portrayed as hard men wielding baseball bats, but Tabitha Richardson is female and despite her age, was menacing to her victims as well, threatening them when they did not pay their debt, often in the full knowledge that her victims were unable to pay.

“If anyone in Wales is a victim of a loan shark, please get in touch with Stop Loan Sharks Wales by calling 0300 123 33 11. There is a dedicated team that will support victims of loan sharks, to get them out of their situation, as well as to investigate any crimes that take place.”