Jet2Holidays, a UK-based package holiday specialist offering holidays to destinations across Europe, has said that four fake sickness fraudsters from Liverpool have been sentenced to three months suspended jail time, after admittedly fabricating a fake claim for gastric illness to win compensation.
The fraudsters – Michael Jameson (43), Claire Weir (35) Jane Weir (38) Janet Weir (63), all from Liverpool – were convicted of contempt of court at Liverpool High Court after inventing and submitting a false claim against Jet2holidays for gastric illness. The claim could have resulted in a pay out of over £45,000, inclusive of their solicitors’ costs. Following the sentence, the fraudsters have now been fined £750 each. They have also been ordered to pay legal costs incurred by Jet2holidays.
According to the claim for compensation, the fraudsters and four children who travelled with them had all suffered for days with nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting, as a result of ‘food poisoning’ contracted whilst on an All-Inclusive week-long holiday at the Aqua Magic Rock Gardens in Benidorm in July 2015. They alleged negligence on the part of Jet2Holidays, stating that the symptoms resulted in a loss of enjoyment on their holiday.
When investigating the claim, Jet2holidays and law firm Horwich Farrelly found evidence showing that the claims were totally fabricated. This evidence included social media posts by the claimants saying ‘Had the best holiday ever’, ‘lovely hotel, food’ and ‘didn’t want to come back home’ and conversation between two of them about how they ‘Loved every minute’ of the holiday. According to medical reports that accompanied the claim, the claimants were still suffering from diarrhoea, stomach pain and cramps when these posts were uploaded. Further, hotel records revealed consumption of lager, vodka, gin, amaretto and liquor during the time when the claimants were allegedly ill.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: ‘We have led the way to tackle the issue of false sickness claims so that holidaymakers do not expose themselves to the risks that come with getting involved in such dishonest activity. For some time we have warned that making false claims could lead to serious consequences, and this ruling shows how serious they can be.’
David Scott, a fraud partner at Horwich Farrelly, the law firm that investigated the claims on behalf of Jet2holidays, said: ‘There has been a reported 500% increase in holiday sickness claims since 2013 and we believe that only a very small number of them are genuine. Horwich Farrelly have successfully defended almost 3,000 holiday sickness claims in barely two years and many share the same evidence that we saw in this case. We are pleased that this family accepted that their claims were fraudulent. They saw this as a way of making some easy money at the expense of honest holiday makers and they will now pay the price for this stupidity.’
In his sentence, Justice Choudhury at the Liverpool High Court referred to a huge increase in holiday sickness claims in recent years, and stated during sentencing that crimes like this are ‘not victimless as some might think’. He also commented that the evidence against them was ‘little short of overwhelming.’