Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 16:15 UK

Million per cent loan man jailed

Ian Robert Jenkins
About 55 people were dependent on Ian Jenkins for money

A loan shark who charged an interest rate of more than 8,000,000% has been jailed for eight months.

Ian Jenkins, 43, from Gloucester, targeted homeless people obtaining their Post Office benefit cards and PIN numbers.

Judge Lambert at Bristol Crown Court said: "His lending to those poor souls was extensive and cynical."

Jenkins was caught in May 2008 by a specialised team of trading standards officers based in Bristol.

He admitted at an earlier court hearing to charges of making unlicensed loans.

Alan Evans, who led the investigation team, said: "Jenkins preyed on the down-and-outs in the Gloucester area.

"They were homeless, vulnerable individuals. He advanced them money, then ensnared them and obtained their Post Office credit cards.

"He got their PIN numbers, would obtain money and then meet them on street corners. He would then give them pocket money to support their drug or alcohol needs. He would keep up to two thirds of the cash.

"This is a significant case because it's the first of its type in the South West. We have our first investigation coming to fruition here at Bristol Crown Court and the eight month sentence for Jenkins."

Jenkins was caught by an operation involving officials from the South West Illegal Money Lending Team - which involves trading standards officers and financial investigators.

They found several notebooks at Jenkins' home which showed that there were about 55 people dependent on him for money. Jenkins charged different people different rates.

One of those victims was being charged interest of more than 8,000,000% - after starting off with a loan of £106.

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