A European arrest warrant was issued yesterday by a Palma court for a Briton who is wanted in questioning with a string of false holiday sickness claims.
The suspect has been due to have appeared in court in Palma on numerous occasions, but has failed to appear, but now, the court, acting on the instructions of a lawyer representing the Majorcan Hotel Federation, (FEHM), has issued the European-wide warrant.
A number of other Britons were questioned by the Majorcan police regarding their involvement in the scam, and, according to court sources yesterday, once the Briton has been located and has been brought to Palma to appear in court, the judicial process against the suspects will begin from where it left off.
The investigation into the false claim group, which was operating via Whatsapp and targeting British holiday makers who were either on the island or who had recently returned to the UK, was launched by the National Police in February of 2017 following a complaint lodged by the Mac Hotels chain - it had apparently been the target of numerous false sickness claims for a number of years.
At the time, the biggest problem was a loophole in British law which granted holiday makers a period of two years within which they could make a claim.
Mac Hotels eventually hired a team of detectives which gathered together photographic and video proof and documentation that false claims were being made. Police and hoteliers soon realised that the false holiday sickness industry was much larger than expected.
In 2017, the Majorcan Hotel Federation estimated that its members had paid out around 50 million euros to settle false claims. The Association of British Travel Agents, ABTA, was quick to get involved and launched its own campaign to crackdown on false claims and it eventually forced a change in the British law which closed the loop hole.
However, Majorcan hoteliers are not giving up their bid to see justice be done. As a result of ABTA’s actions, last year in the UK, a number of holidaymakers were found guilty of making fraudulent claims and were either been ‘fined’ thousands of pounds, given community service or sent to prison.
Research from ABTA found that 7 in 10 (70%) people did not realise that making a false claim for holiday sickness could result in a prison sentence in the UK or abroad.
Just 2 in 5 (38%) think people could receive a fine in the UK or abroad. And now, a Palma court is all set to throw the book at the culprits.