A family of fraudsters who faked sickness while on holiday, including feigning their children’s illness, have been convicted of contempt of court.
Michael Jameson, 43, Claire Weir, 35, Jane Weir, 38, and Janet Weir, 63, of Liverpool made fraudulent sickness claims against Jet2holidays – asking for more than £45,000 in compensation and solicitors’ costs.
But they were busted when Jet2holidays, and law firm Horwich Farrelly, unearthed social media posts at the time they were supposed to be still suffering from diarrhoea, stomach pain and cramps saying ‘Loved every minute of it’ and ‘Wish I was there now Mum’.
Other posts during the holiday included ‘Had the best holiday ever’, ‘lovely hotel, food’ and ‘didn’t want to come back home’.
Records at the all-Inclusive Aqua Magic Rock Gardens in Benidorm, Spain, during their week-long stay in July 2015, found the family had consumed lager, vodka, gin, amaretto and liquor during the time they claimed to have been ill.
Michael Jameson also posted pictures of a day out at a cricket club when he was allegedly unwell. The four claimants said they had all suffered for days with nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting, as a result of food poisoning caused by negligence at the Aqua Magic property.
The fraudsters were sentenced to three months in prison, suspended for two years, fined £750 each and ordered to pay Jet2holidays’ costs after being convicted of contempt.
Justice Choudhury, sitting at Liverpool High Court, said the evidence against the claimants was “little short of overwhelming” and added that holiday sickness fraud was “not victimless as some might think”.
Abta reported a 500% rise in sickness claims between 2013 and 2016, which tour operators put down to a huge rise in fraudulent activity. That prompted Travel Weekly to launch its Fight Fake Claims campaign to rally the industry in a joint stance against fraudulent claims.
Horwich Farrelly, which defended Jet2holidays in this case, has defended nearly 3,000 cases in two years. Fraud partner David Scott said “many share the same evidence that we saw in this case”.
“We are pleased that this family accepted that their claims were fraudulent,” he added. “They saw this as a way of making some easy money at the expense of honest holidaymakers and they will now pay the price for this stupidity.”
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2holidays added: “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. It should leave anyone making a fake sickness claim in no doubt – we will robustly investigate and defend any claims that are dishonest or illegitimate – and the courts will not hesitate to punish anyone engaging in such fraud.”
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