Fraudsters in retreat after holiday sickness crackdown

The travel industry is successfully fighting back against fraudsters after a recent surge in fake holiday sickness claims.

The bogus illness epidemic threatening to drive up holiday prices looks to be under control after tour operators adopted a hard-line approach.

Thomas Cook said it has seen the rate of claims decline dramatically, having stepped up its monitoring processes and taken legal action against fraudsters.

High-profile court cases, which included the jailing of a couple for 15 months, seem to have acted as a powerful deterrent to potential scammers.

In one case, Jet2Holidays released copies of the claimants’ bar bill to the media, which showed they carried on drinking heavily on the days they were ‘sick’.

Loophole in the law

ABTA said the fake claims meant higher prices and less choice for honest holidaymakers. It added that such claims have risen by 500% since 2013 whilst reported sickness levels have remained stable.

The travel organisation’s #StopSicknessScams campaign has lobbied the Government to address the loophole in the law which allows companies to unduly profit from false holiday sickness claims.

ABTA said: “It is crucial that the Government brings in new rules which control legal costs on holiday sickness claims as soon as possible.”

In contrast to the UK, Thomas Cook reports that it has not received any fake claims from customers in Germany.

Hotel industry cost

Some Spanish hoteliers have even threatened to close their doors to British customers as a result of the crisis, which has cost the local tourism industry millions of euros.

However, a report presented at the recent World Travel Market (WTM) in London suggested that the crackdown in the UK was paying off as nine out of ten holidaymakers reported that they hadn’t been contacted by claims firms.

WTM London’s Paul Nelson, said: “Fake sickness claims by unscrupulous holidaymakers, encouraged by claims firms, give Brits a bad name and make things worse for those who genuinely fall ill abroad.”