U.K.-based on-demand online private jet charter broker Fly Victor Limited is being sued for $30 million by Delaware-based Don’t Look Media, LLC. The lawsuit stems from a 2015 licensing agreement that enabled it to use the URL privatejet.com to generate leads it would then convert to bookings.
It’s the second time the domain has been in the news. In 2012, a press release announced Nations Luxury Transportation, LLC, had agreed to acquire the address from Don’t Look Media Group for $30.18 million in cash and stock, although that transaction apparently never took place. At the time, it was thought to be a record price.
In its lawsuit, filed last month in the United States District Court Southern District of Florida, Don’t Look said it had a lead generation arrangement with JetSmarter, now part of Vista Global, until 2015, when it struck its deal with Victor.
In addition to Victor, the lawsuit names Alyssum Group Limited, which was formed as a holding company in January 2018, Clive Jackson, the founder, and CEO of Victor, its former chief marketing officer Dan Northover, plus other individuals it alleges were part of a conspiracy to defraud Don’t Look.
The lawsuit claims Victor failed to pay licensing fees, didn’t run stipulated pay per click campaigns via Google, and failed to make legally required disclosures putting the defendant at risk for potential fines from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration. Because of the latter, it alleges the Defendants’ actions have created liability of fines that can run up to $32,000 per day.
The filing, made on June 21, 2019, states, “The RICO Defendants are professional money launderers who purposely conceived, developed, and prosecuted a scheme to defraud Plaintiff out of tens of millions of dollars of revenue remunerations.”
It accuses Jackson, Victor and others of stealing revenues generated through leads procured by PrivateJet.com; the manipulation of corporate financial statements to lure investors and potential investors for purposes of acquiring capital infusions; illegally laundering unpaid remunerations and investor capital infusions, as well as a plan to destroy privatejet.com’s brand and value.
Don’t Look says Jackson used “stolen millions of dollars” to “pump up” the value of Victor “in order to lure unsuspecting private equity investors to infuse various rounds of capital funding.”
It also alleges, “During 2016 through 2018, the RICO Defendants funneled money out of Defendant Fly Victor directly into a spiderweb of international corporate entities of which they are the exclusive directors and corporate officers” via consulting fees.
In one instance, the lawsuit says Longhurst Corporate, Ltd., a company it says was controlled by Jackson, received £12,650 in 2017, £140,625.00 in 2016, and £172,500.00 in 2015 for consultant fees “without further explanation.” It claims Longhurst was voluntarily dissolved in 2018 having only claimed assets of £773 in 2017 and £537 in 2016.
Jay Farrow, the attorney for Don’t Look told Private Jet Card Comparisons although the privatejet.com now redirects to flyvictor.com, the original agreement was that Victor would build out and maintain the site, complying government regulations.
Asked why his client hasn’t simply tried to take back its domain, he said, “If you license a cow, and the person you licensed the cow to kills the cow, then there is nothing to take back.” He said that private aviation is a business built on trust and Victor has effectively destroyed the value of the website in addition to creating potential liability for fines.
He said his client never received any monies from the agreement and had been trying to work out an amicable settlement before filing the lawsuit.
Farrow said he expects the defendants to be served in London by the end of July.
Jackson has made a profile for himself in the charter broker arena by saying he was going to provide transparent fees, limited to a 10% markup. He was also one of many to claim his online booking platform would revolutionize charters as Uber did for ground transportation. After expanding into the U.S., in September 2017 he raised $10 million from BP Ventures as part of a $20 million raise.
In January 2018, Jackson announced the formation of Alyssum Group. In a release, it called the holding company “the beginning of a significant, long-term initiative with backing from key strategic players in the aviation industry.”
Victor said the group would “create a connected ecosystem enabling stakeholders across the aviation industry to boost efficiency and maximize profitability by sharing data and business intelligence and developing a robust set of commercial and business standards that ensures the general aviation sector continue to advance.”
At the time, Victor said it had also raised $18 million more, this time from existing investors plus BBA Aviation, the owner of FBO chain Signature Flight Support.
In June 2018, Victor launched Alto, a frequent flier program for charter customers giving credits for flights. It also hired an outsider, Joe Cohen as CEO, however, his tenure only lasted months before exiting with Jackson retaking that title.
In a blog post on his website this past January, Jackson said Victor 2018 worldwide revenues hit $74 million and the company was “on track” to be profitable by the end of 2020. The company has been ranked on the UK Sunday Times Tech Track 100 for the past four years.
Louis Spagnuolo lists himself as chairman of privatejet.com and CEO of VIP Risk Advisors, on his website, although a link to the site doesn’t work. A link to Don’t Look Media redirects to Illuminati Trust, which then lists him as CEO of VRA Insurance. His LinkedIn profile lists him as chairman of the board of Illuminati, a member of Tiger 21, chairman of Hedge Fund Symposium, although its last event is listed as being held in November 2016.
Stephen Jones, a lawyer with Alyssum in London, said while he had not seen the lawsuit, he was aware of the dispute, and said, “We believe the claims have no merit and lack jurisdiction.”