A conman who claimed he was starting his own airline and recruited senior managers to join him has been jailed for two years.
Victor Bassey, 50, tricked people into backing Excelsior Airways, which he said would operate daily flights between Teesside and London, and claimed he had millions of pounds of funding.
But the Nigerian had no cash, no aircraft on order and no agreements to run flights from UK airports.
When his con was discovered, he had defrauded around £125,000 in services from companies and individuals.
Bassey recruited a management team to launch Excelsior Airways, including a chief executive officer and director of flight operations who were enticed from jobs elsewhere.
Some staff had been working abroad. None of them were paid.
After sentencing at Teesside Crown Court, Detective Inspector Dave Turnbull of Cleveland Police Economic Crime Unit said Bassey moved in after the link between Teesside and Heathrow was shut by a previous operator.
He said: “Victor Bassey is a professional fraudster and saw this as an opportunity to make some money. He used his skills to exploit the victims who were all much respected in their profession.
“A thorough investigation was carried out by Cleveland Police Economic Crime Unit and the strength of the evidence against Bassey was such that he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years imprisonment at court.”
At an earlier hearing at the same court, Bassey admitted three counts of fraudulently trading, four of obtaining services dishonestly and one of possessing an article for fraud.