Rogue travel agent from Kingsbury jailed for fleecing customers
PUBLISHED: 18:35 02 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:35 02 June 2017
A rogue travel agent from Kingsbury who conned thousands of pounds out of unsuspecting holidaymakers with non-existent flights has been jailed for a year.
Anas Ahmed, director of AirBridge Travel Limited (ABT) in Church Lane, fleeced victims for more than £42,000.
The 33-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in an unfair commercial practice and one count of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice at Harrow Crown Court on May 2.
More than 30 holidaymakers were led to believe they had booked flights through ABT, which Ahmed ran with his wife, only to end up out of pocket and devastated when they found that these flights had not been booked at all.
Customers were told to transfer money directly into their bank account, as AirBridge Travel 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.
Sahid Akhtar told the court he paid out more than £1,600 for a family holiday to Pakistan for his wife and children, only to discover that no tickets had been booked.
He 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 working there.
Simon Legg, senior regulatory service manager at Brent Council, said: “Brent Council is doing everything it can to support local businesses to thrive. 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.
“If you are planning on booking a holiday, always make sure to research the company thoroughly especially if they are online. Ensure the company is a reputable tour operator and holds an ATOL membership.
“Take the extra step of checking the membership on ATOL’s website to make certain it’s genuine.”
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