A business owner who was sold more than £20,000 in unaffordable loans by disgraced online payday loans no credit check lender Amigo while he was already £40,000 in debt has told how the firm ‘destroyed my life’. 

John Mackenzie, 49, from County Antrim, Norther Ireland, took out loans worth £24,000 from Amigo starting in 2016.

He told MailOnline he has been fighting with Amigo and the Financial Conduct Authority for years over the affordability of his debts. 

‘All I want is my money back so I can settle my debts and sort out my life,’ businessman Mr Mackenzie said.

‘If my claim had been dealt with at the time I first submitted it, my money would have been paid back with interest. Now Amigo is in administration, they’re sitting on that money and I can’t afford to live.’ 

Mr Mackenzie is among tens of thousands of customers of guarantor lending firm Amigo Loans who has still not received a penny of their money back – up to 18 years after first being missold unaffordable loans.

John Mackenzie, 49, from County Antrim, Norther Ireland, took out online payday loans no credit check worth £24,000 from Amigo starting in 2016

Amigo founder and former CEO James Benamor has become a billionaire thanks to the initial success of his business

Amigo was permanently banned from lending in May 2022 by the Financial Conduct Authority and was ordered to repay interest taken from customers sold ‘unaffordable’ loans from as early as 2005.

Amigo lent at high interest rates to people with a poor credit score if they had a friend or family member willing to make repayments if they could not. 

But after the company was inundated with complaints for selling unaffordable loans, it collapsed – depriving tens of thousands of customers of fair compensation.

Meanwhile Amigo’s CEO James Benamor – who once described his younger self as a drug-taking petty criminal – became exceedingly wealthy, cashing in £305million of shares after his company was first floated on the stock market. He resigned from the company’s board in 2020.

Previously pictured with some of the world’s most famous businessmen such as Richard Branson, Benamor even appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, before by 2018 his wealth had increased to the point that he was officially classed as a billionaire.

His wealth fuels an ultra-glamorous existence that has, in recent years, been chronicled via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts showcasing endless exotic holidays and extravagant family outings. 

Away from the founder’s jet-set lifestyle, Amigo previously calculated that customer complaints could cost it around £338million – but now it has gone into administration, customers are in line to receive as little as 17 percent of the cash they are entitled to. 

The company faced a slow downward spiral after being forced to stop lending in 2020, then again in 2022 after a brief return to the market.

Amigo was permanently banned from offering new loans in May 2022 by the Financial Conduct Authority after it was found to have missold deals to tens of thousands of customers

James Benamor has previously been pictured with some of the world’s most successful businessmen, including Richard Branson (right)

Benamor’s customers still have no idea when they will receive any compensation

Financial authorities had realised it had been handing out loans to almost anyone, with only the barest consideration given to whether borrowers or their guarantors could afford them.

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