THE parents of a Thurrock teenager who committed suicide after falling into debt are trying to raise awareness of how easy it is for cash-strapped youngsters to fall into the “pay-day” loan trap.
Just over a year ago, Oliver Scott, who was 18, from North Stifford, died after being struck by a train at Romford station.
He had become addicted to going to bingo halls and gambling.
To fund the habit, he was borrowing money from pay-day loan companies such as Wonga and Toothfairy who offer cash instantly but can charge interest rates of around 4000%.
In February 2011, Oliver, known to his friends as Ollie, made his parents aware of the problem and Geoff, his dad, a chauffeur in London, ended up paying off more than £3,000 worth of debt.
Since Ollie’s death on September 9 last year, demands for a further £2,500 have come in from the instant cash lenders.
Along with having to come to terms with the death of their bright son, Geoff and Dawn have had to pay-off those debts.
Dawn said Ollie, who had a brother Max, 17 and sister Mia, 12, was an extremely intelligent boy who was working as an IT apprentice at the Harris Academy in Chafford Hundred. He had formerly
studied at the school before going to Palmers College and then back to the Academy to work as an apprentice.
Dawn, a childminder, said: “We can’t bring Oliver back, but we know how he was affected by these companies.
"It’s got to hit home what kids can do at the hit of a button.
“We didn’t know anything about it until February last year when he went up to London to see his Dad to tell him he was in a bit of trouble.
“Geoff paid off the first amount and gave Ollie a talking to.
“In July, we started getting more letters and so we spoke to him again, but he said he couldn’t stop himself and that it was so easy.
“We paid some more of the debt off with our holiday money and told him that it had to stop or we would lose everything.”
As Geoff had been paying off chunks of the debt, soon the companies started taking money out of his account without him knowing.
“We’re still in shock,” Dawn said.
“This house has changed so much.
"He was such a character, he was popular and had a big crowd of friends.
“Ollie had got himself into so much trouble and couldn’t get out.
“People need to be aware of what young people are able to do.
"We’re saying there needs to a higher minimum age or a cap on interest rates that these companies can charge.”