Father and son's £250,000 compensation bill over Northamptonshire flight delay claims firm rip off
County's trading standards team received 531 complaints - the most ever about one company
A father and son who were directors of a Northamptonshire-based flight delay claims company must pay £250,000 towards giving ripped off customers their money back.
Flight Delay Claims Team promoted themselves through a website which said they could help people get more than £500 in compensation for delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights.
The firm secured compensation for some customers but scores of others were left out-of-pocket.
A lengthy investigation by Northamptonshire Trading Standards led to the company's directors, Martin Ryan and his son Joseph Ryan, being charged with fraudulent trading.
Martin Ryan, aged 71, was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment suspended for two years, disqualified from being a director for five years and was made the subject of a five-year criminal behaviour order.
Joseph Ryan, 33, was sentenced to 18 months in jail suspended for two years, disqualified as a director for three years and received a three-year criminal behaviour order.
Their company E.Asthampton Ltd, registered at Wellingborough Road, Rushden, was also fined £5,000.
To date, 531 complaints have been lodged about Flight Delay Claims Team — the most ever about a single company received by Northamptonshire Trading Standards.
Officers identified 182 victims who lost money between March 2016 and September 2019 and will get their share of the £250,000 set aside for compensation and to cover prosecution costs.
The sentencing at Northampton Crown Court on Monday (September 27) climaxed an investigation which began in June 2017 after Trading Standards received complaints from some of Flight Delay Claims Team’s customers — together with a request for advice from the company itself.
Officers visited the company at its business address in George Row, Northampton, offering advice on how to rectify a number of issues.
But a criminal investigation launched following further complaints uncovered unlawful and unfair demands for administrative and reminder fees, .
Summing up, His Honour Judge Mayo said one of the worst aspects of the fraud was copying signatures onto documents which were then used to pursue innocent victims through the court.
Councillor David Smith, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Engagement, and Regulatory Services on West Northamptonshire Council, said: “Our Trading Standards team put an incredible amount of time and effort into bringing this fraudulent company to justice, so this is a pleasing result both for the team and the hundreds of innocent victims.
“While the company was not set up to commit fraud in the beginning, the methods they employed became fraudulent as they evolved, with their aggressive techniques for chasing payments leaving customers feeling threatened and intimidated.
"Reading some of the comments made by the victims was heart breaking, with one victim having to take money out of his pension pot to pay the amount demanded.
"Our Trading Standards team is committed to protecting consumers from unfair trading, and I hope the result of this investigation transmits a strong message that those who commit fraud should expect to feel the full weight of the law.”
Passengers are entitled to between £110 and £520 in compensation if flights are cancelled or delayed by over three hours.