UK Predator loan sharks 'emptied' victims' bank accounts and spent their benefits last minute news
PremierLeague-News.Com- When Gary Karucz was arrested, he asked police: "Are you here because I have been loaning money to the homeless?"
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Two loan sharks acting in ‘abject greed’ exploited vulnerable people ‘trapped in poverty’ and left one with just £40 a month. Stephen Lee, 65, and Gary Karucz, 47, befriended two different men, who both suffered from mental health conditions and lived in supported accommodation. Both of the victims claimed benefits as they were not able to work due to their health. Working together, Lee and Karucz offered to lend the men money but charged an interest rate of over 100pc. The ‘odious’ campaign of illegal money lending escalated to the point that both men lost control of their bank accounts, with one being fleeced to the point that they were left to survive on just £40 per month. READ MORE: Manchester United hooligans fight their OWN fans in moments ahead of Old Trafford chaos Lee and Karucz, of Radcliffe, both pleaded guilty to offences of theft, fraud, illegal money lending, and Karucz also admitted separate offences of supplying cannabis. Both were jailed on Thursday (November 24) at Minshull Street Crown Court. Gary Karucz (Image: gmp) Prosecuting, Zoe Dawson said that in November 2018, the first victim moved into his supported living flat and after a few weeks he met Karucz, who offered to lend him £20 but said he must pay back £40. “It was a rate that was 100% above the commercial rate,” the prosecutor said. The victim immediately paid Karucz back as soon as he received his benefits, but the next time Karucz lent him money, he also asked him to hand over his bank card. Stephen Lee (left) and Gary Karucz (right) outside Minshull Street Crown Court (Image: Manchester Evening News) The man did so as he felt intimidated by Karucz and feared he would hurt him if he didn’t do as he said, the court heard. “He remained intimidated by him over a six month period and so continued to borrow money. He was threatened on one occasion to be taken to the moors and never be seen again,” Ms Dawson said. “Stephen Lee and Gary Karucz were operating together in an illegal money lending business. These were unregulated loans on vulnerable individuals who were charged an exorbitant amount in interest. They were acting as loan sharks.” The court heard that Lee was acting as the driver and assisted Karucz in the collection of the monies. Over a six month period, the men took between £4,000 and £5,000. Towards the end of the month, the first victim ‘had little money left to him’. Both Lee and Karucz were using the man’s bank account ‘as their own’ and went on to put money into it and take it out without his consent. The court heard of a second vulnerable man, this time befriended by Lee, in September 2019. He was lent £20 by Lee who asked him to pay back £30, and also asked him for his bank card and PIN number. He was intimidated by Lee who threatened kidnap and assault, Ms Dawson said. She added that he only ever received £40 out of his benefits per month, with the two defendants ‘emptying’ his bank account of £1,017 over an eight-month period.
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. He told Lee he was getting a new card, and Lee drove him to pick it up from his bank, before taking it and instructing him to withdraw £400 in cash. In total, £7,816 was taken from the second victim. Both men were arrested at their address in Radcliffe, and Karucz replied to his caution: “Are you here because I have been loaning money to the homeless?” In both men’s bedrooms, they each had ‘debtor’s lists’ containing the names, details and money owed from their ‘customers’. Karucz was also found to have 18.5grams of cannabis and text messages from his phone showed he had previously supplied the drug to his sister. Lee was found with 8.82 grams of cannabis.
Stephen Lee (Image: gmp) Karucz had previous convictions for dishonesty and Lee, who lost one arm in a horrific accident, had previous convictions for sex offences. Defending Karucz, Stuart Duke said: “These are mean offences. He expresses genuine remorse to these vulnerable men. “These were hallmarks of bullying. He does have a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.” For Lee, Andrew Evans said his client met the second victim ‘by chance’ and he was not sought for and targeted. “This sort of offending is out of character.” Sentencing, Judge John Potter said: “These offences display a willingness by both of you to steal from and defraud from the vulnerable people trapped in poverty. “This was, for me, odious and cruel offending. Both of you, over a significant period of time, exploited others for your own selfish needs, out of thousands of pounds. “For the people, in my judgement, who will hear of this type of dishonest offending, will have nothing other than disgust and revulsion. You both engaged in this activity by stealing from individuals their bank cards and using them to fleece their accounts of what little money they had in them. “That is abject greed - exploiting poverty.” Karucz, of Exeter Road, was jailed for 31 months. Lee, also of Exeter Road, was jailed for 28 months. Get more of today's headlines here READ NEXT: Greater Manchester Police took EIGHT hours to respond to 999 call about 'suicidal woman' who was later found dead Manchester United hooligans fight their OWN fans in moments ahead of Old Trafford chaos Inside Manchester's abandoned iconic building that's been left derelict for years Local coffee shop's fury as Costa opens third chain in neighbourhood Manchester United hooligans fight their OWN fans in moments ahead of Old Trafford chaos