Loan shark nurse was no angel

A LOAN shark who preyed on fellow Ipswich Hospital nurses is today awaiting sentence after admitting illegal money lending.

A LOAN shark who preyed on fellow Ipswich Hospital nurses is today awaiting sentence after admitting illegal money lending.

Marrisa Ico targeted Filipino colleagues as part of her scam and, on one occasion, was even alleged to have chased a debt by contacting a ten-year-old girl at school.

Ico left her position at the hospital after the illegal operation she ran from her home in Orwell Road, Ipswich, was uncovered by trading standards officers.

It is thought the loans totalled a high five-figure sum, possibly even more, during a three-and-a-half year period.

Ico funded her activities by taking out single-figure interest loans with high street banks. She then lent the money at rates of up to 155 per cent APR (annual percentage rate), according to one expert.

One victim told investigators he even cleared a loan which had got out of control by signing over land in the Philippines to cover his £10,000 despite it being worth nearly twice as much.

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Ico pleaded guilty breaching the Consumer Credit Act when she appeared before Ipswich magistrates.

The 39-year-old's loan-sharking enterprise was shut down when Suffolk County Council trading standards officers raided the home she shared with her husband, Wilfredo last October.

They were alerted to her activities when three Filipino nurses and one of their partners contacted officials.

The nurses claimed they were being approached by Ico at work over the money they owed.

A further statement was taken a day later from another Filipino nurse who was also a borrower.

Each of the nurses borrowed money over a period of time and then topped up their debt because they could not pay the original loan back.

Shortly afterwards trading standards offices and colleagues from Birmingham's expert anti-loan shark team swooped at Ico's home.

In addition to cash books and ledgers, they discovered the mother-of-two ran a business selling food from the Philippines from a summerhouse in her back garden. She also ran a jewellery business.

It is believed that Ico had dozens of clients, many of whom were Filipino nurses, who were new to Britain. The charge she pleaded guilty to related to the period April 1, 2003 to October last year.

Investigators were told that Ico would also chase outstanding payments by repeatedly text messaging her borrowers.

She must now appear at the town's crown court for sentencing on July 24

N Has your life been affected by the activities of loan sharks? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to