'Airline' man jailed for London to Durham flights scam
A man who said he was setting up an airline to operate flights between London and Durham Tees Valley Airport has been jailed for fraud.
Victor Bassey claimed to have backing for Excelsis Airways, and recruited a management team. But they were not paid and flights never started.
The 50-year-old, of Outram Street, Middlesbrough, had earlier pleaded guilty to eight fraud charges.
He was jailed for two years and banned from being a company director for 10.
His team, which included a chief executive officer and director of flight operations, were enticed from jobs elsewhere, some from abroad, but were never paid.
It is estimated Bassey conned his victims out of about £125,000, including companies who he persuaded to supply him with their services.
'Out of pocket'
During an earlier hearing at Teesside Crown Court he admitted three counts of fraudulent trading, four of obtaining services dishonestly and one of possessing an article for use in fraud.
Keith Simpson, Cleveland's acting chief crown prosecutor, described Bassey as "persuasive, manipulative and ruthless".
"He was determined to drag innocent people into his fantasy, conning them into believing he was starting his very own airline.
"His management team left established jobs elsewhere to work for him, excited to be part of something so ambitious.
"They had no idea it was a sham. Ultimately they were left without jobs and out of pocket.
"I pay tribute to the prosecution team who've worked with Cleveland Police to make sure this man is brought to justice."