UK Secured Loan Shark Faces the Law

businessman in handcuffs
A notorious East London loan shark is finally facing the power of British law.

Steve Basstoe, also known as “Jaws” by police, is a seemingly mild-mannered businessman, but has just recently been charged with several counts of illegal money lending and blackmail, according to the Mirror.

Basstoe lives a double life. In one life he is a soft spoken father-of-two who impresses his neighbors and employees with polite courtesy. In another life, he is a menacing loan shark criminal.

The Mirror reports that in one instance, Basstoe intimidated a victim into paying £120,000 worth of interest on a £5,000 loan. Here in America, that’s equivalent to nearly $193,000 on an $8,000 loan.

From December 2008 to February 2011, Basstoe operated his illegal and criminal operation across East London. Investigators uncovered 36 separate personal loans made to 31 different people. Penalty fees along with interest allegedly earned Basstoe hundreds of thousands in profit.

Basstoe ensured that he would receive that profit by conducting “loan shark” behavior.

One customer had borrowed a secured loan from Basstoe using a BMW as collateral. In a secured loan, an item of value, such as a car, is used as collateral to secure a lender’s money. A secured loan lender will seize the collateral if the borrower does not make the necessary payments on the secured loan. Unfortunately for this borrower he borrowed money from the wrong lender.

Basstoe’s cruelty apparently knew no bounds. After seizing and selling the BMW, Basstoe threatened to send thugs to “visit” the victim’s grandmother and assault her.

His cruelty and intimidation tactics were so menacing that he terrified another defaulting borrower into quitting his job and fleeing the city.

Basstoe would charge his “clients” a monthly rate of £150 interest per £1,000 borrowed until the time of repayment. He would also demand a penalty fee of £500 each day beyond the agreed-upon deadline.

For all his sinister criminal intelligence, Basstoe was no match for the combined efforts of the Illegal Money Lending Team, Havering Council Trading Standards, and the Metropolitan Police.

While Jaws’ defense lawyer claims this entire trial is about the sale of cars, the judge—who has scheduled sentencing in October—seems to have his own thoughts.

“Prison is inevitable,” said Judge David Owen-Jones in a news story with the Mirror.

Evidence against Basstoe includes detailed lending records, fraudulent payment records, and data from his palm computer.