Fake sickness claimants against Jet2Holidays sentenced

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.’

How to avoid credit card fraud when travelling

If you’re planning a winter holiday, you might decide to apply for a credit card online before going away. While it’s sure to come in useful, you must keep your new bit of plastic safe as you don’t want to become a victim of fraudulent activity. Here are some of the scams to be aware of, as well as ways to protect your bank balance abroad.

Card not present fraud

Whether you’re popping to Spain for some much-needed sunshine or are going further afield, it’s important to be aware of card not present fraud. With this type of crime, fraudsters can access your credit card details from old receipts and use them to make purchases online or over phone. As long as the retailer does not need to physically see your card to authorise the transaction, thieves can leave a large dent in your bank balance, so don’t leave any personal information lying around.

What’s more, while most banking groups will monitor your account 24-hours a day and contact you if they notice anything suspicious, you can always give them a call if you spot anything unusual. Acting quickly could stop the criminals from stealing more of your money and might make them easier to trace.

Cash machine fraud/burglary

According to The UK Cards Association, total fraud losses on UK cards totalled £185.0 million between January and June 2012, with many people having their credit cards stolen at cash machines. While you shouldn’t be afraid of taking money out of the wall, you should always report anything that you think is unusual and keep your banking details to yourself. As some machines can also be planted with devices that can skim you card details for fraudulent purposes, avoid ATMs that look like they have been tampered with. You can often check the photo or diagram on the front of the cash dispenser to see if it appears as it should.

Counterfeit fraud

While you can apply for low interest rate credit cards quickly over the internet, some fraudsters like to make their own. This is known as counterfeit fraud and involves copying the details of one card and placing them onto another via the magnetic strip. This is usually done using a special device, so don’t let your credit card out of your site at any time. If you want to buy something in a shop or pay a bill in a restaurant, ask a member of staff to bring the Chip and PIN reader to you, so they don’t have time to make a new version.

Credit cards can make life easier for any jet setter, just make sure you look after them with care.

Holiday Buyers Told to Beware of Scams

Holiday buyers are being told to beware of scams that are coming to light as buyer trust in the travel industry is on a high.

A poll carried out by online directory, 192.com, which asked who shoppers trusted when making a transaction, has apparently revealed that travel agents are viewed as a safe pair of hands in financial dealings.

1,500 UK residents were questioned for the survey, and 39 percent of them said that they were comfortable with making payments to travel agents. This compared very favourably with car dealers who polled 11 percent, and estate agents who polled 15 percent. In the 45 to 54 age bracket, the trust in the travel industry rose still further with those polled, as 42 percent registered their faith in agents and hoteliers.

However, 192.com claim that fraudsters are cashing in on the public’s trust in the travel industry with a growing trend for selling fake holidays. 151 incidents of fraud involving airline tickets have been reported since the beginning of this year, with two thirds of them taking place between April and June, according to Action Fraud, a national fraud and online crime reporting centre.

Customers looking for an online bargain are thought to be particularly at risk, with fraudulent websites buying tickets on the customer’s behalf but cancelling them after payment has been made, buying tickets using a stolen credit card, or faking e-mailed tickets.

Holiday fraud is a phenomenon that is likely to be on the increase, as a Get Safe Online survey, backed by the UK government, discovered that a third of those booking holidays on line made no attempt to verify the credentials of the company that they were paying money to, making the industry a happy hunting ground for crooks and fraudsters.