A bogus Gatwick parking company promised holidaymakers to look after their cars in a secure compound but instead left them damaged and unlocked in fields.
The £1.4m operation - run by owner Asad Bashir Malik - was busted after trading standards were told that more than 1,000 vehicles were being parked in a field in Bonnetts Lane.
An investigation revealed fake reviews on London Parking Gatwick Ltd website as part of the attempt to mislead customers, West Sussex County Council said.
Malik, of Jura Close in Crawley, was jailed today for 14 months and disqualified from being a director for four years.
Richard Sargeant, Trading Standards team manager, said: “Malik and his company deceived thousands of customers between 2014 and 2016, causing damage to their cars and making false claims on its website.
“This was a complex investigation for our team and I am very pleased with the outcome.
“I would urge anyone using a Gatwick meet and greet business to only use a Trading Standards-approved company.”
Malik and his company London Parking Gatwick Ltd - which was turning over £.1.4 million - were found guilty at Brighton Crown Court of misleading customers, the council confirmed.
Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings are still pending.
The company said on its website that all cars left with them would be parked in a secure compound.
But in 2016 reports to West Sussex Trading Standards claimed that over 1,000 vehicles were being parked in a field in Bonnetts Lane, West Sussex.
Trading Standards officers visited two fields, Bonnetts Lane and Keepers Knight, in July 2016, and confirmed that London Parking Gatwick Ltd was using these to park its customer’s vehicles, the council said.
Some of the vehicles had been left unlocked with their windows open and keys on the windscreen.
Some of the vehicles were damaged and others had been issued with parking tickets.
Officers contacted the customers and established that they had been misled by claims on the website.
Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of an unfair trading practice can contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 or online via www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport
To find a list of all parking companies that have been vetted and checked by West Sussex Trading Standards, visit: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?eid=9ae2d29f-5202-4743-ba68-ad399ef574c5