Newport pensioner, 83, who operated as a 'menacing' loan shark threatened to hunt down victims

A jury at Cardiff Crown Court heard how Tabitha Richardson lent a total of £126,000 without a licence and made threats to "come look for them" when payments were missed. Credit: Media Wales

An 83-year-old woman who operated as an illegal loan shark charged her victims 40% interest and sent them threatening text messages.

A jury at Cardiff Crown Court heard how Tabitha Richardson, from Newport, lent a total of £126,000 without a licence.

The court also heard how the pensioner made threats to "come look for them" when payments were missed.

Ms Richardson had previously operated with a license to loan money, but the jury was told when this expired she knowingly continued to operate.

One couple, who were victims of Richardson, described feeling "trapped in a cycle of debt" and had to pay the loan shark more than their income every month.

When they missed the payment, Richardson texted saying: "Just ring me, you know I can find you" and “You have got to speak to me and let me know what’s going on before I come looking for you”.

Tabitha Richardson says she had previously had a license to lend money. Credit: Media Wales

Another victim said he borrowed £31,000 and had to pay back interest in the region of £12,400.

Again, the victim went on to receive threatening messages from the elderly woman, reading: "I don't want to come and look for you but your not leaving me any other thing to do. Let's not fall out, we have known each other for a long time."

She operated from her Newport garage where officers from the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit say they found more than £6,500 in cash in a safe. They also seized bank books, lending books, files and various bits of paperwork.

The elderly woman was sentenced to 24 months in prison, suspended for two years

Richardson was interviewed by police in November last year. She said she had been legally employed as a money lender since the late 1970s but admitted lending money illegally since 2016.

The judge said she had "ran roughshod" over the rules designed to protect borrowers and described messages to her victims as "threatening and menacing to a degree".

She pleaded guilty to three charges relating to her offences including money laundering.

She was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 24 months in prison.

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