Lirio Ramos, a 56-year-old Poway woman, pleaded guilty in San Diego Superior Court Thursday, to one misdemeanor count of operating a loan sharking business.
She was placed on probation for three years and must pay her victims $23,953 in restitution, pay a $1,000 court fine, and complete 100 hours of community service. Ramos loaned money to co-workers at exorbitant interest rates that exceeded 480 percent per year.
The consumer and environmental protection unit of the San Diego city attorney’s office received a complaint from the small claims court in Kearny Mesa that Ramos was trying to enforce debts that appeared to carry unlawfully high interest rates.
The city attorney’s investigation revealed that Ramos had loaned financially strapped co-workers, many of whom were dealing with personal emergencies, money and charged a minimum of 20 percent-30 percent interest that she compounded every two weeks.
The investigation also revealed that short-term, high-interest-rate loans are more common in some cultures. An individual, for instance, may need a $500 loan, but, in return must then pay the loan shark $600 in a short time frame – for instance, two weeks. These loans are sometimes referred to as “5/6 loans” and are illegal in California.