As Britain’s battered economy staggers towards an uncertain future in the wake of last year’s shock Brexit vote, business is booming for debt collector Shaun Smith.
A little over a decade ago, he was an enforcer for Liverpool crime gangs, where rivals were regularly beaten, shot, torched, and even raped for money (or revenge) but now, Shaun has decided to put his skills to a more legitimate use and set himself up as a black market debt collector.
He started his new profession after being sentenced to five years in prison for a firearms offence and has quickly earned the moniker “Britain’s scariest debt collector”.
“For the ordinary man in the street who’s owed a few quid and wants fast results, there’s me,” he explains. “I’m cheaper than a solicitor and quicker than a County Court Judgment.
“I might take a few grand up front to cover my expenses, then 20 to 30 percent of the debt when it’s claimed. That debt is signed over to me, so I’m not collecting a debt for my client, I’m collecting it for myself and I will never go away or stop until I get what is mine.”
“I’m good at my job because I’ll do whatever it takes to make them cough up”.
Shaun once brutally restored order when rival Liverpudlian gangs were involved in a turf war. The man has seen some sh*t: “By the time I was 24 I’d seen men get burned, cut up, mutilated, stabbed, shot and even raped to make them pay up. I’m not saying I’ve done any of that. But I’ve seen it done.”
He’s also been in some sh*t himself: “I’ve had my fingers broken, I’ve been shot at, been kidnapped, locked in a container which was blasted with shotguns and rammed with cars. My car was blown up. I’ve had a £100,000 contract on my head. I should be dead.”
Speaking about how he earns a living, Shaun admitted that it wasn’t a job that he took pride in:
“I’m not proud of what I’ve done but I think all those people deserved it. It didn’t happen to school teachers, lollipop men and normal people who sit behind desks. It happened to villains and nasty people.”
For back-up, he uses a small group of bodybuilders, former criminals, cage fighters and unlicensed boxers. Occasionally, his men cause him headaches, as can be seen in a clip from a recent documentary. In it, Smith calls two of his most trusted employees into his office for a right telling-off.
He’s heard rumours that they’ve been selling steroids at the company’s headquarters – a gym on an industrial estate in Warrington, Cheshire. Shaun slaps one of the men, gives them both a firm warning, and fines them £1,000. Another enforcer, ex-con Tony Beswick, punches one of the men for good measure.
Say what you like about debt collectors like Shaun, but their tactics undoubtedly work. I know I’d be paying up if I owed the man a few quid!
WATCH BRITAIN’S SCARIEST DEBT COLLECTOR IN ACTION ON THE PLAYER BELOW: