Travel agent jailed after false ABTA protection claims; man displayed signs at premises despite not being a member of the organisations.
Byline: CHARLOTTE PAXTON News Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
A ROGUE travel agent has been jailed after falsely claiming bookings made via his company would be ABTA and ATOL protected.
Raja Janjua, who traded as Geotrips Limited, admitted two counts of engaging in an unfair commercial practice under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, when he appeared at Birmingham Crown Court.
The claims related to the display of Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL) and Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) logos on signs at the premises in Alcester Road South, Kings Heath.
Flights and packages were also advertised on the Geotrips website as being ABTA and ATOL protected.
The company's website even included a section titled 'ATOL terms and conditions' despite it holding no ATOL and never having been a member of ABTA.
ABTA became aware Geotrips Limited was displaying its logo and emailed the company, asking for it to remove all references from its website within 24 hours.
The association also spoke to Janjua by telephone and made clear that the company was not entitled to display the logo. But when Trading Standards visited the shop on September 20, 2016, they found the ABTA logo on the main shop sign and on a sticker on the main entrance door.
Janjua was interviewed under caution on February 8, 2017 and again on September 26, 2017.
He admitted he knew it was an offence but claimed he had not removed the logos because bailiffs had told him not to move anything from his shop.
He told officers that Geotrips was not trading and was just a trading name for another company called Cloud Travel and Tours Limited, despite the latter company being dissolved on June 28, 2016. He also claimed the website was just a dummy website being tested.
However, when officers visited the premises on September 20, 2016, they found it open for business and trading as Geotrips, advertising travel packages for sale, while the Geotrips website was also live and operational.
In addition to the seven-month prison sentence, Janjua was also ordered to pay a PS170 victim surcharge. No separate order was made for costs. No separate charges were brought against Geotrips Limited as the company ceased trading in March 2018.