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Thirteen people convicted over Atol fraud

Thirteen individuals have now been convicted for what the Civil Aviation Authority has called “one of the largest ever cases of travel sector fraud”.

The perpetrators used a travel company to make fraudulent Atol claims about fictitious holidays they said had been cancelled after the failure of the travel agent.

Fictitious Mauritius holidays had allegedly been booked through Star and Key Travel and were claimed to have taken place between July and August 2014, but the company went bust in June 2014.

After the company ceased trading, claims for reimbursement for the cancelled holidays were submitted through the Atol scheme, administered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the Air Travel Trust.

Today’s conviction of Abdul Patel, 59, of Edmonton, London, follows 12 earlier convictions related to Star and Key Travel across two previous trials (see below) which led to prison sentences and confiscation orders worth more than £300,000 in total, including £48,566 which paid as compensation to the Air Travel Trust.

Following Star and Key Travel’s collapse, a total of 23 claims were submitted. However, upon investigation by the CAA, a number of suspicions were raised with inconsistencies in claim forms, as well as amendments such as forms being overwritten in pen on top of pencil.

Following these suspicions, the CAA and Air Travel Trust alerted the Metropolitan Police, which helped to identify the fraudulent activity.

The CAA said that, following investigations, “it became clear that Star and Key Travel had been created with the express purpose of committing fraud”.

The company was created by family members of Mariam Bhajun and her sons Roshan and Mohun. The Bhajuns encouraged friends and family to pose as ‘customers’ of the business. In total, 13 individuals have now been convicted related to Star and Key Travel following three separate trials.

Paul Smith, director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We welcome today’s conviction, along with the 12 others previously convicted regarding fraudulent Atol claims against Star and Key Travel.

“These convictions are the result of hard work, dedication and collaboration between the Metropolitan Police and the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

“The Atol scheme is in place to support consumers who have seen legitimate holidays cancelled when their travel business has ceased to operate. It is funded by payments made into the scheme when individuals buy Atol-protected holidays, so fraud such as this affects everyone who is booking package holidays.

“We constantly review and enhance our checks and processes to identify fraudulent behaviour and will not hesitate to take any necessary action against anyone found to be making fraudulent claims against the Atol scheme.”

The 12 people previously convicted are:

Roshan Parsad Bhajun, 51, of Rathbone Place, London. Found guilty and sentenced on 09.03.18 to five years’ imprisonment

Mohun Raj Bhajun, 52, of Priory Avenue, London: Found guilty and sentenced on 09.03.18 to five years’ imprisonment; Issued a confiscation order of £224,483.28, which was paid in full 28.06.2019.

Mariam  Bibi Bhajun, 73, of Folkestone Road, London: Found guilty and sentenced on 09.03.18 to 24 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work; and issued a confiscation order of £100,000 from which £48,566 was paid as compensation to the Air Travel Trust, in full, on 04.07.2019.

Da’Vanya Monique Duncan, 33, of Maya Place, London: Pleaded guilty and sentenced on 09.03.18 to 24 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Sandra Edwards, 58, of Holly Street, London: Pleaded guilty and sentenced on 09.03.18 to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Swastee Thomas, 48, of Holbrook Close, London: Pleaded guilty and sentenced on 09.03.18 to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Claudette Cummings, 59, of Maya Place, London: Pleaded guilty and sentenced on 09.03.18 to 20 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Malik Hossein Kurrimboccus, 58, of Glengarry Road, London: Found guilty and sentenced on 24.08.18 to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Amandine Greneux, 43, of Rathbone Place, London: Found guilty and sentenced on 24.08.18 to 24 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Tianna Antoinette Regisford, 28, of Golfe Road, Ilford: Found guilty and sentenced on 24.08.18 to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months  and a supervision requirement for 12 months.

Patricia Lynch, 62, of Stainby Road, Tottenham: Pleaded guilty and sentenced on 28.08.18 to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Lillieth Edwards, 60, of Darwin Road, London: Pleaded guilty and sentenced on 26.02.21 to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months.

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