The chickens come home to roost

By | Category: Travel news

On Friday, Paul Roberts, and Deborah Briton were sent to gaol for 15 months and nine months respectively. Their crime? Attempting to fraudulently claim £20,000 from Thomas Cook by claiming that they had contracted diarrhoea and vomiting whilst on holiday.

The judge, as he handed out the sentence, said that those submitting fraudulent claims can expect prison sentences.

The same day, the justice minister, Dominic Raab, announced that the government was calling for evidence on false claims in preparation for the launch of new legislation which is expected to curtail the amount that can be claimed at such actions. When a similar cap was introduced on car whiplash injuries the number of claims dropped away and some believe that, as a result of this, scammers turned their attention to the travel industry.

ABTA welcomed the government announcement reminding it that its Stop Sickness Scams campaign has been calling for a Government clampdown on fake claims saying that the claims were resulting in higher prices and less choice for honest holidaymakers.

It says that it has already presented the Government with evidence showing how these claims have risen by 500% since 2013 whilst reported sickness levels have remained stable. It also says that total claims to the industry in 2016 which includes the cost of damages paid out was estimated by ABTA to be over £240m but this figure also includes legitimate claims.

But is gaol the answer?

Why should we taxpayers pay for their incarceration? Why not have a range of punishments including withdrawal of passports for a number of years; a black list of convicted fraudsters to be circulated amongst travel companies allowing them to refuse to sell holidays to them; placing them in the hotels they tried to scam for them to do menial work for every holiday period they have for a number of years or even doing local community work for the tourism industry in the area they live?

What still needs to be addressed is the question of touts and those companies encouraging fraudulent claims. They need to be put out of business and the participants also given punishments suitable for their offences.

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