Scammer who ran fake airport meet and greet service forced to pay up
A scammer who ran a fake meet-and-greet car service at Gatwick Airport and left his clients' cars parked unlocked in a field has been ordered to pay compensation.
Muhammad Amjad ran Park Direct Gatwick Ltd and promised customers he would park their cars securely while they enjoyed their holidays, a court heard.
However, prosecutors revealed the 33-year-old had left all the cars in a field near the airport, with many unlocked when investigators checked.
A spokesman for West Sussex Council, whose trading standards team led the investigation into Amjad, said: "At least one of the vehicles was damaged and dash cam footage proved it had been driven around.
"In July 2019, West Sussex Trading Standards received a tip off that the company was using a field in Ifield to park the vehicles of customers who were flying from nearby Gatwick Airport.
"The company and director were already known to the service having previously been warned about the same conduct.
"Officers carried out an unannounced inspection on 30 July 2019 and found the gate to the site open and around 200 to 300 vehicles parked closely together, some almost touching, with many vehicles left unlocked.
"Details of the vehicles were recorded and letters were sent to the registered keepers, who confirmed they had used Park Direct Gatwick Ltd and believed their cars were parked securely in a locked car park with CCTV."
During a hearing at Lewes Crown Court, a judge heard a customer made a separate complaint from one of Amjad's customers whose car had been damaged.
Prosecutors told the court the company, which has since gone into liquidation, had refused to pay for the repair, despite dashcam footage showing her car being driven around days before she was due to pick the car up.
A judge sentenced Amjad to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to complete 60 hours of unpaid work as well as a ten-day rehabilitation course.
Amjad, of Pycroft Way, London, was also ordered to pay seven victims a total of £1,141 in compensation, as well as £1200 of court costs.
He had earlier admitted misleading commercial practices.
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager, said: "Despite being previously warned about this activity, Amjad's company continued to mislead passengers into believing their vehicles were secure, when in fact they were left unlocked in a field that anyone could access.
“I would like to thank the customers for coming forward and helping to bring him to justice."
Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support Fire and Rescue, said: "The outcome of this investigation should serve as a stark warning to all dishonest traders: we will find out what you are up to and we will take action against you.”