A couple in their 70s who ran an illegal money lending business have been ordered to pay back more than £340,000. 

Romeo and Merlita Magtibay, both 73, of Albert Road in Mitchan, ran operated as loan sharks between 2008 and 2019. 

During that time they loaned over £2million with interest of 20 per cent in most cases. 

Their home was raided in October 2019 after an anonymous tip-off and investigators found a total of 1,219 loans were made ranging from £200 to £15,000. 

Messages were also found relating to guarantors and applying pressure if a borrower could not pay. 

One message said ‘you’re her guarantor so you need to tell her to pay’. 

One guarantor told the sharks: “I am the one mostly affected. Imagine, I work hard scrubbing toilet so I can pay off the loan of that no shame person. I’m old and struggling.” 

On Friday (February 23) the pair appeared at Kingston upon Thames Crown Court after they admitted illegal money lending and money laundering. 

They were each given two year suspended prison sentences and four-month curfews. 

Judge Judith Coello told them: “You were loaning money to people on a business or commercial manner, not a friendly, helping hand to people in need." 

The case was prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with Merton Council Trading Standards and the Met Police. 

Speaking after the hearing, head of the IMLT, Tony Quigley, said: “This is a great result for our team as a result of a painstaking investigation. We are determined to get these illegal lenders off our streets, and this shows we will not give up. 

“We would like to thank the borrowers in this case who were brave enough to come forward to tell us what they had gone through. Anyone who thinks they might be in the same position should get in touch with our team for specialist support and advice.”