A cooked travel agent was sentenced to more than two years in prison after he was found guilty of defrauding unsuspecting holidaymakers out of thousands of pounds.
Tej Bahadur Gurung, of Hillside Crescent, South Harrow, carried out a last-minute cancellation scam through Markhor Traders Limited (MTL), where he was a director.
The 54-year-old swindled almost £70,000 from 28 victims, though according to Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, the number of victims is thought to be much higher and the true scale of the scam may never be known.
Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council, said he was pleased to see the fraudster brought to justice.
He said: “He is going away for a long time and I guarantee he won’t enjoy the room, the view, the nightlife or the bars.
“Criminals like Gurung prey on people’s hopes and dreams and I’m proud that this council’s trading standards officers are second-to-none in finding them and punishing them.”
Gurung pleaded guilty on all counts including fraud and unfair commercial practice.
He was sentenced to 25 months imprisonment and was handed a Director’s Disqualification Order of ten years.
Statements from victims revealed that MTL would cancel flights worth thousands of pounds before bullying victims into booking new ones.
The company would claim that airlines had cancelled the tickets when, in fact, Gurung had done so and pocketed the cash.
Simon Legg, senior regulatory service manager from Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, urged all holidaymakers to check and double-check the travel agents when making a booking.
He said: “Our job is to protect consumers and legitimate businesses and we will go after rogue traders like Gurung.
“Many of his victims would have saved up looking forward to a holiday but instead they were left with no flight and no money.
“If you’re planning a holiday, always do your research, check the provider’s ATOL membership is genuine and where possible, pay by credit card to ensure your money is protected.”