Money lender nurse must sell home

A FILIPINO nurse who lent money to Ipswich Hospital colleagues and charged extortionate interest rates will have to sell her home to pay for her crimes.

A FILIPINO nurse who lent money to Ipswich Hospital colleagues and charged extortionate interest rates will have to sell her home to pay for her crimes.

Loan shark Marissa Ico was ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work for the community after she pleaded guilty to engaging in an activity that required a licence.

The 40-year-old mother of two was also told to pay the courts the £15,000 which was the recoverable benefit sum and £10,000 towards prosecution costs.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that she would have to sell her Orwell Road family home in Ipswich to pay the amounts.

Hugh Roland, prosecuting, said the offences took place between April 2003 and October 2006 when Ico was working as a nurse at Ipswich Hospital.

He said she targeted the Filipino nurses lending them various sums of money and charging them up to 150 percent interest.

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Mr Roland said an investigation began after nurses complained about Ico's methods of recovering debts.

Ico was approaching debtors at the hospital, bombarding them with text messages and on one occasion contacted the 10-year-old daughter of one at school.

On October 17 2006 Trading Standards officers searched Ico's house which she shared with her husband Wilfredo and their children, now eight and three, and from where she ran her illegal operation. During the investigation bank books were seized with “unexplained transactions” amounting to £179,000.

The court heard that she also could own up to four properties in the Philippines but further information was unavailable.

Mr Roland said Ico was also running a jewellery business and a Filipino business from her garden, had set up a savings scheme for Filipeno's known as Paluwagon, and was making extra cash booking flight tickets for Filipinos.

Craig Marchant, mitigating, said these types of enterprises were common in Filipeno communities and if the former nurse had known she needed a licence to lend money she would have got one.

He said Ico, who was of previous good character, was now in financial difficulties and owed money to banks and Inland Revenue. He added: “The defendant did not accept there was an abuse of her position because she was not forcing what she was doing on anyone and within the Filipeno community it is quite normal and part of their culture.”

Judge David Goodin said: “It became a lucrative business and I'm bound to say a deeply unattractive one. Your offence is simply carrying on that business without a licence but the APR was very considerable indeed. It could be up to 155pc and such a rate is extortionate and aggravates the offence.”

Ico was told if she did not pay the £15,000 imposed by the confiscation order by August or she breached the unpaid work order she would be jailed.

n. Did you fall victim to Ico? What do you think of her sentence? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk