Hol­i­day­mak­ers are tar­geted in £60m false claims racket

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - ■ EX­CLU­SIVE by JOE HINTON sun­day@dai­

BRIT tourists in Spain are be­ing tar­geted by law firm touts urg­ing them to make false food poi­son­ing claims.

Hote­liers in pop­u­lar re­sorts say hol­i­day­mak­ers have been suf­fer­ing “ha­rass­ment” from con­men.

The fraud­sters con­vince tourists to make false claims and then take a cut of any pay­out.

A source told the Daily Star Sun­day: “This is al­most as big a busi­ness as drugs in some places.

“Yes, the au­thor­i­ties are try­ing to crack down, but there are still hun­dreds go­ing through ev­ery week.

“Ho­tels don’t want the has­sle of le­gal fees so they pay out more of­ten than not.

“All you need is a pic­ture of a re­ceipt for anti-sick­ness med­i­ca­tion.

“Most peo­ple get

£2,000 a claim. The tout skims off the top and so does the law firm.”

Now po­lice are go­ing un­der­cover to catch the fraud­sters, who are cost­ing the ho­tel in­dus­try

£60mil­lion a year.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been backed by UK tour op­er­a­tors.

Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion doc­u­ments seen by the Daily Star Sun­day show that Jet2, Thomas Cook, Monarch and TUI are look­ing into hun­dreds of bo­gus claims in Mal­lorca and other is­lands.

The doc­u­ments said: “The rise in the num­ber of fraud­u­lent claims is hav­ing a se­ri­ous im­pact on con­tracts for next sea­son as hote­liers turn to other mar­kets such as Ger­many.

“And Span­ish po­lice are ea­ger to make some ar­rests to start set­ting a clear ex­am­ple.”

UK tour op­er­a­tors and Span­ish ho­tels have been hit with scores of com­pen­sa­tion claims in the last few months.

Swindlers are mak­ing of­fi­cial com­plaints about food poi­son­ing. Then, on ar­rival in the UK they are get­ting anti-sick­ness drugs. Un­der our laws they don’t even need a doc­tor’s note – a phar­macy re­ceipt is enough to make a claim.

Mil­lions have al­ready been paid out to hol­i­day­mak­ers – lead­ing to chefs in the re­sorts be­ing un­justly sacked.

Last week Brit mum Laura Joyce, 37, inset, was ar­rested in Mal­lorca on sus­pi­cion of run­ning a £9mil­lion hol­i­day sick­ness scam.

She is ac­cused of us­ing mid­dle­men to en­cour­age hol­i­day­mak­ers to fake ill­ness­ness to claim com­pen­sa­tion.

Jet2 has now hired pri­vate de­tec­tives to nail the cow­boy com­pa­nies tout­ing for busi­ness.

It has al­ready caught one cou­ple tout­ing for busi­ness in Benidorm.

The op­er­a­tor said: “We have seen a sharp rise in claims made for gas­tric ill­ness, with no cor­re­spond­ing in­crease in the lev­els of re­ported ill­ness amongst hol­i­day­mak­ers.

“This has co­in­cided with an in­crease in the ac­tiv­i­ties of touts and claims man­age­ment com­pa­nies, both in re­sorts and in the UK, who are ad­vis­ing cus­tomers that merely by tak­ing a hol­i­day on an all-in­clu­sive ba­sis, they can claim ill­ness and re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion. The ac­tiv­ity is not iso­lated.

“This is why we are cam­paign­ing to raise aware­ness of the is­sue among our cus­tomers so that they are not fooled by these fraud­sters.

“Those who get lured into this sick­ness scam could find the des­ti­na­tion that their hol­i­day leads to is prison.”

Jet2 added: “We are in­vest­ing heav­ily in mea­sures to pro­tect cus­tomers and stop cow­boy man­age­ment com­pa­nies co­erc­ing hol­i­day­mak­ers into mak­ing fraud­u­lent claims.”

■ GRUB UP: Brits are be­ing urged to say they have food poi­son­ing

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