I’ve been exposing the tactics of the claims management firm, Flight Delay Claims Team (FDCT) since 2017, after it hounded scores of airline passengers over alleged debts. The website promised to check whether claimants were entitled to compensation payments for cancelled or delayed flights. Those who entered their details into the flight checker found they’d been unwittingly signed up to a “contract” and were sent escalating bills of up to £850, despite no service having been performed.
Now the company directors have been successfully prosecuted after a four-year investigation by Northamptonshire trading standards and 182 victims will be reimbursed.
Director Martin Ryan was sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Northampton crown court. He was also disqualified from being a director for five years and was made the subject of a five-year criminal behaviour order. His son, Joseph Ryan, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, 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 in Rushden, Northamptonshire, was fined £5,000 and the pair were ordered to pay £250,000 to compensate victims. Trading standards said that its investigations of a record 531 complaints found “a systematic defrauding of its customers through a range of misleading and dishonest techniques” between 2016 and 2019.
The company was also found to have electronically transposed signatures onto documents which were then used to pursue innocent victims through the court. At least one Observer reader was ordered to pay FDCT’s £440 bill by a judge following this tactic.
Northamptonshire county council said: “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 heartbreaking, with one victim having to take money out of his pension pot to pay the amount demanded.”
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