Gonzales photographed leaving court (from a screenshot after her conviction in Southampton's "Daily Echo" back in April)
Gonzales was investigated by the England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Southampton City Council Trading Standards.
She had previously pleaded guilty to illegal money lending and in April this year was sentenced to a 12 month community order and 150 hours of unpaid work.
At today’s hearing Simon Mortimer on behalf of the prosecution told Southampton Crown Court how Gonzales made a total of £125,000 lending to members of the local Filipino community, over a six year period.
Gonzales was arrested when officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team executed a warrant at her home seizing documentary evidence of the illegal business, in August 2011.
Whilst the scale of her business is unclear, it is believed she had around 30-60 borrowers. Records suggest that within the period of 2005 up until her arrest in 2011, she had loaned over £50,000. She never offered paperwork, so borrowers were completely in the dark as to how much they were repaying. Because of the lack of records an exact figure is not available, however, investigators think at least £75,000 in profits was made
Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Southampton City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for communities, said: “These are difficult times for many households and there’s a lot of pressure to make ends meet. People who may have lost their jobs, have outstanding debts or are struggling to get credit through the usual means can feel like they’ve run out of options and turn to loan sharks.
“Today’s outcome demonstrates that we will not sit by and let these predators take advantage of desperate people.
“The council does not use the Proceeds of Crime Act lightly but we will not allow criminals to benefit from their activities. Funds recovered from this case will be used to help victims and benefit the wider community.
“We will continue to work alongside the England Illegal Money Lending Team to track down and prosecute loan sharks, as well as to offer practical advice to help people through tough times.”
His Honour Judge Burrell QC ordered Filipino loan shark Mary Lou Gonzales to forfeit £52,000 as a result of her conviction in April at Southampton Crown Court in a confiscation of assets hearing held under the Proceeds Of Crime Act
Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Loan sharks are motivated purely by greed. They do not offer a community service and cause nothing but misery. Through proceeds of crime legislation we are able to hit illegal money lenders where it hurts, preventing them from profiting through crime. Today’s result sends a clear message that we will tackle this crime and strip offenders of their ill-gotten gains.
We would urge anyone who is aware of an illegal money lenders operating to contact us in confidence on 0300 555 2222 as we will continue to stop them”
Nationally over 210 prosecutions have been secured for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 130 years worth of custodial sentences. The Illegal Money Lending Teams have written off almost £40million worth of illegal debt and helped over 18,000 victims.