Police have ruled out a criminal investigation into Wonga over the payday loan firm’s use of fake legal letters to chase debts. Wonga was fined £2.6m last June by the City regulator when it emerged that it had been sending out demands for repayments in the names of fabricated law firms, and in some cases charging an administration fee for those services.
Between October 2008 and November 2010 Wonga sent 45,000 letters to customers in arrears, under the names Chainey D’Amato & Shannon and Barker & Lowe Legal Recoveries, in an action the Financial Conduct Authority said was designed “to maximise [its] collections by unfairly increasing pressure on customers”.
After the FCA took action to secure compensation for the affected customers, the matter was referred to the City of London police to see if the firm should face a criminal investigation for fraud.
Police have now decided there are no grounds for action. They confirmed that, with the exception of some of the earliest versions of the letters, they had all said somewhere in the small print that they had come from the lender. Police said: “The central allegations were that Wonga had deceived its customers by sending letters falsely purporting to be from lawyers with the aim of recovering outstanding debts from customers.
“After a thorough review of all the material gathered the City of London Police has concluded there is not sufficient evidence to progress a criminal investigation.”
I wonder if another police force would have made the same conclusion?