Four people have been convicted in England for making a false holiday food poisoning claim.
Two men and two women from Middlesbrough were sentenced to four months in prison, after issuing fraudulent compensation claims for gastric illness against Jet2holidays.
Christopher Byng, 38, Barbara Byng, 64, Linda Lane, 36, and Anthony Byng, 66, were convicted of contempt of court at Teesside Combined Court in late February after submitting false illness claims that could have resulted in a pay-out of tens of thousands of pounds.
All four pleaded guilty. Christopher, Barbara and Anthony Byng received immediate custodial sentences, with Linda Lane getting a suspended sentence.
The four claimed that they, and two children they were with, had suffered with symptoms, including stomach cramps, sickness, diarrhea, headaches and hot and cold sweats, because of food poisoning on an all-inclusive holiday at the Paradise Lago Taurito and Waterpark, Gran Canaria, in November 2016.
An investigation found social media posts from the family, including images and video footage on Facebook of them on the holiday despite claiming to be sick. They included people using the waterslide, swimming in the pool and drinking in the bar. The probe found no mention of illness, despite the severe symptoms the claimants said they were suffering from at the time.
Judge Mark Gargan said that “false claims for holiday sickness are all too prevalent” and on this occasion they were “not merely a case of exaggeration” but a “complete invention”.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2holidays, said the ruling sends out a very stark message.
“We have led the way when it comes to tackling the issue of fake sickness claims, and we continue to do so. Issuing a false claim for compensation is fraud, plain and simple, and we have been at pains to warn people that there are serious consequences if they choose to do so. We will not hesitate to take action against fraudsters, and the courts will not hesitate to punish them,” he said.
A survey sent to the family on their return from holiday was completed by Christopher Byng. He said he was “very satisfied” with the trip and choice, cleanliness and quality of meals the hotel offered, despite the subsequent allegations. He also said he was “very likely” to book with Jet2holidays again in the next 12 months despite the claim the “holiday was ruined as a result of the illness.”
David Scott, a partner at Horwich Farrelly, the law firm that investigated the incident on behalf of Jet2holidays, said it has defended thousands of fraudulent holiday sickness claims but they remain an issue for travel companies.
“We welcome the judge’s verdict, which sends out a strong message that if you are caught presenting a dishonest claim, there are severe consequences,” he said.
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