A rogue travel agent who stole thousands of pounds out of unsuspecting holidaymakers with non-existent flights has been jailed for a year.
- Anas Ahmed stole over £42,000 from victims for non-existent flights and has been sentenced to 12 months in prison.
- Reports from Action Fraud assisted Brent Trading Standards investigation.
- One victim lost £1,600 after booking flights to Pakistan for a family holiday.
Anas Ahmed, director of AirBridge Travel Limited (ABT) was brought to justice by Brent Trading Standards in a detailed investigation that involved assessed and analysed reports from us.
Mr Ahmed pleaded guilty at Harrow Crown Court on May 2 and was sentenced to 12 months in prison for defrauding multiple victims out of £42,000.
The court heard that more than 30 would be holiday goers were led to believe they had booked flights through ABT, only to find out these flights had not even been booked.
A witness, from Huddersfield, spoke of his “complete disappointment” after paying £1,000 to fly to Pakistan for his sister’s wedding, only to find out through the airline itself that his tickets had not been booked at all. Not only did he lose the money paid to ABT, but he had to pay out more money for a replacement flight, so that he didn’t miss the wedding.
Some customers were fortunate to have discovered that their flights had not been booked before they were due to fly. Others did not find out until they arrived at the airport ready for their holiday only to be left stranded.
Customers were told to transfer money directly into their bank account, as ABT would not accept payment through its website. Yet once payment had been received, many customers reported feeling ignored when trying to follow up on the booking.
Ruined family holiday
Another victim lost out after paying more than £1,600 for a family holiday to Pakistan for his wife and children, only to find himself out of pocket when he discovered that no tickets had been booked. The witness who also spoke in court said he was so desperate to recoup his lost money that he travelled six hours to ABT offices in Brent, only to discover that nobody was physically based in the office.
Simon Legg, Brent Council Senior Regulatory Service Manager, said: “Brent Council is doing everything it can to support local businesses to thrive and tackling the small number of rogue traders, like Anas Ahmed, who try to con consumers is part of this approach.
“Many of us save up all year looking forward to a week away and to be left stranded at an airport with no flights or accommodation is a cruel blow but Mr Ahmed can now look forward to a 12 month stay in prison"