Cars stolen, driven for hundreds of miles and left in a muddy field in sham airport parking scam

The field where the cars were left was often too boggy to remove the cars from. (Reach)
The field where the cars were left was often too boggy to remove the cars from. (Reach)

The tagline "We are safe and secure" is exactly what customers are looking for when booking airport parking.

But those words could not be further from the truth for the meet-and-greet firm run by Mohammed Isaq and his family, which charged customers £70 to collect their cars from Manchester Airport only to ditch them in an insecure field they did not have permission to use.

When holidaymakers returned from their trips they often found their cars were filthy, damaged, had been driven hundreds of miles, or in several cases had gone missing entirely.

The business operated under a number of names, but all of them were operated in the same way.

Customers were promised CCTV, flood lights and 24/7 staffing but none of this was true.

"Put simply, customers were paying for a service that they did not receive, and which they would never have agreed to had they known the truth," prosecutor Adam Pearson told Manchester Crown Court.

Read more: Holiday fraud doubles as scammers target consumers trying to ‘snap up a deal’

Sultan Khan (left) and Mohammed Isaq (right).
Sultan Khan (left) and Mohammed Isaq (right).

In July 2016, one man paid to park his car using the company website. On his return he rang the number he had been given, to be told that his key had been lost.

He was eventually offered a taxi to be taken home, where he found his spare keys and collected his car himself.

When he arrived he found his car parked, along with a large number of others, at the back of Davenport Green Hall in a sodden, muddy, grass field.

His car was covered in mud and the bonnet and front wing mirror were scratched.

He complained and met Amani Khan, Isaq’s daughter, who called herself the manager. She signed a document admitting liability for the damage.

On 18 August 2017, there was a report of a burglary at the site. It was reported that approximately 130 keys and a number of vehicles had been stolen.

Giving a statement to the Manchester Evening News at the time, Sultan Khan, son of Isaq, said they did not tell their customers as they "didn’t want to ruin their holidays".

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Cars were left in an unmonitored field. (Reach)
Cars were left in an unmonitored field. (Reach)

Khan added: "We are fully insured and we are probably the most secure independent car park at Manchester Airport.

"But we are not geared up for organised criminal gangs, who have been planning this for months."

As holidaymakers returned from trips expecting to be met by drivers at the terminal with their cars, they learned that cars had been stolen instead.

Customers were often told that it was unknown if their car was among those taken, and were invited to go to the car park to check.

It was then they discovered the scene of "utter confusion".

"Cars were parked in deep mud, with members of staff not knowing the location of the cars parked there, or which keys and/or cars were missing,” Mr Pearson said.

One woman had booked parking for her car with Manchester Meet and Greet Ltd for 17th to 22nd August 2017.

Read more: Police hunt suspected fraudster selling £100 organic veg boxes 'full of Tesco products'

The field and nearby area sometimes held as many as 500 cars. (Reach)
The field and nearby area sometimes held as many as 500 cars. (Reach)

When she returned she rang the company to be collected only for the person on the other end of the phone to say her keys had been stolen, but her car not not been - but he could not find it.

The next morning, she finally found the car parked in a muddy field with none of the security features promised.

One holidaymaker was less lucky. He had booked parking with Car Park Manchester and returned on 20 August 2017 to be told that a number of cars and keys were stolen.

He collected his spare key and went to Davenport Green Hall to find cars "parked all over the place". Most of them were filthy.

His car was one of those that had been stolen.

Another woman also had her car stolen. It was fitted with a tracker, and she could see it moving around Manchester. When she called up the company to check what had happened, she was told that her car was parked in the compound.

It was found days later, abandoned in a driveway without any doors. It was a write-off.

CSI investigator Simon Bedford was of the view that the security was "insufficient", and was told that nothing had been captured on CCTV.

One police officer said keys were kept in the back of an unsecured van while another said there was also no burglar alarm.

During the investigation, it emerged no business had permission to use the field for airport parking, and despite an enforcement letter being sent cars were still being put on Davenport Green Hall.

Nina Khan, Sultan Khan, Mohammed Isaq and Amani Khan outside the Crown Court at Manchester. (Reach)
Nina Khan, Sultan Khan, Mohammed Isaq and Amani Khan outside the Crown Court at Manchester. (Reach)

One man, who booked to park his car in January 2018, had his flight delayed so returned to Manchester early.

He tried to call the company but there was no response, and they eventually said they would bring him his car the next day.

He had taken a photo of the odometer; when he got his car back he found it had done a further 688 miles on the clock.

It was full of cigarette ash and rubbish, the alloys had been scratched, a tyre was flat and the cigarette lighter was not working.

There were Rizla papers, tobacco and cannabis in the car, and it stank of cannabis and tobacco.

The BMW was a company car which he had to pay to have repaired. He later accepted an offer of £200 to ‘call it quits’ if he didn’t take matters further, but he never received the cash.

The combined turnover of the company was up to £200,000 but the extent of the fraudulent trading was between £30,000 and £100,000, the court heard.

At a sentencing hearing, Isaq, 62, was jailed for 17 months and banned from becoming a company director for six years after pleading guilty to fraudulent trading between August 2017 and February 2018.

Several members of his family received community orders.

What are the most common airport parking scams?

Car parking scams have become rife in recent years, with shady businesses exploiting the opportunity presented by a person leaving their valuable procession with them while they're in another country.

To counter this, there is the blue Park Mark logo that is awarded to companies and car parks that have passed a police check, some companies are also part of an accredited trade association.

The meet and greet

This was the scam run by Isaq's family and is becoming increasingly common.

As part of the parking service, a worker for the company will collect and return your car to the terminal, but during your holiday they may use your car however they want rather than keeping it in the car park as promised.

The best way to counter this scam is to take a picture of your mileage and the interior of your car before you leave.

Safe and secure

Some scammers have been known to offer parking in a secure car parking but in reality, there is very little security in the place it's left, which sometimes can just be a residential street.

To avoid this, use Google Earth to check the location where the car will be kept and check to see if it is secure, you can also ask the company you book with to send you a picture of the car once it is parked.

QR scam

Many car parks you can leave your car in at an airport now require QR codes as part of the payment, but there have been reports of scammers replacing the codes with their own.

The code will then direct the user to a fake website to take their payment details, handing them over to the scammers.

Make sure you pay attention to the code you're scanning when you arrive if it looks like it's been tampered with or glued on, then find another one and report it to a member of staff.