If you’ve been keeping up with the blog here at Air Ambulance Weekly for a while, you’re most likely familiar with the saga of air ambulance operators in England and their seemingly uphill struggle against numerous fraudulent companies impersonating their charity operations.
Well, things have changed. Finally, after many months, some positive air ambulance news has emerged from our friendly neighbors across the pond.
Scammers, scam no more: the High Court of Justice (think Supreme Court but with more powdered wigs) has come down hard on the three primary companies – all closely connected – who were not only defrauding air ambulance companies and siphoning off the middling funds they rely upon, but were exploiting the selflessness of well-intentioned people by posing as air ambulance charities.
The Court officially closed down the fraudulent companies on the grounds that it was “in the public interest.” That may sound subjective, but judging by the amount of money these companies have already diverted away from England’s vital charity-funded air ambulance services into their own coffers, it would be hard to argue with that assessment.
The three registered companies, St. Anthony Ltd, St. Anthony Repatriation Ltd., and Air Ambulance Support Community Interest Company., headed by Anthony Joseph Durkin, collected funds and resellable goods from people under the false pretense that the donations were supporting air ambulance services.
The two St. Anthony companies had previously operated under the names “Air Ambulance Trading Co. Ltd” and “Air Ambulance Service.” If you find any references to those entities in past blog posts, consider them one and the same with the companies being discussed here.
One of their primary deception tactics was posing as official air ambulance collection agents. The “agents” would leave plastic bags and flyers on doorsteps, appealing for much-needed clothing donations and bearing an aggressively generic medical helicopter logo very similar to the logos of several official air ambulance organizations.
The bag collection scheme was particularly effective for the swindlers, as authentic air ambulance organizations have collected clothing donations with official bags and leaflets being their logos in the South and Midlands for years.
Due to poor record-keeping on the part of the scammers, it is unknown where the clothing and funds collected by the companies ultimately went. Unsurprisingly, investigators found zero evidence in regards to any sort of donation to any air ambulance company.
With this latest ruling, The Court has set an ominous precedent that future would-be scoundrels, of the sort that could actually feel no remorse for stealing money from good-hearted people, many of whom likely have friends and/or relatives who have been transported by English air ambulances in the past, would be the wiser to heed.
At the same time, we at Air Ambulance Weekly find it somewhat disheartening that a company could operate for so long, with such an outstanding record of scamming innocent people, allwhile being permitted to operate under an obviously misleading name such as “Air Ambulance Support Community Interest Company.” Nevertheless, we can definitely be thankful for the news that the air ambulance scammers have finally been grounded.
Will it last? Will those involved in the companies be looking at heavy fines or even some hard time? The answers to these questions remain to be seen, but we’ll keep you abreast of the latest news on this story as it develops.
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Would you like to know more? Read past Air Ambulance Weekly posts on this topic here: