The Guardia Civil made arrests in September 2017. | Alejandro Sepúlveda


The three private prosecutions for false compensation claims made against hotels in Mallorca accuse eight people of fraud and membership of a criminal organisation. Each prosecution is calling for sentences of six and a half to eight years.

Between 2014 and 2017, these false claims cost hotels millions of euros. The prosecutions point to there having been a structure which took advantage of UK legislation that favoured consumers. Elite Project Marketing was a company alleged to have been at the centre of the plot. It is said to have organised people who would entice British holidaymakers with the possibility of 'free holidays'; they could receive up to 40,000 euros at no cost. The only proof the tourists required was a receipt for the purchase of diarrhoea medication.

The claims were then taken on by certain firms in the UK. Successful claims made against hotels would financially benefit all parties, and the hotels had little chance of challenging them in court. The person at the head of a company called UK Holiday Claims has been accused, although it is uncertain if this person will appear at the trial.

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The three private prosecutions are on behalf of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, Hoteles Mac and AMLA Explotaciones. The main centres for these claims were Alcudia and Calvia, and all-inclusive hotels were targeted in particular. As all-inclusive guests habitually only ate in the hotels, food-poisoning claims were easier to make.

Hoteles Mac, which operates the large Club Mac complex in Puerto Alcudia, maintains that it was forced to pay out just over one million euros after receiving more than 800 claims of this type. AMLA says that claims amounted to 5.5 million euros, while the hoteliers federation indicates total damages of over 1.2 million euros. In 2017, the federation in fact estimated that its members had paid out around 50 million euros to settle false claims.

Arrests were made by the Guardia Civil in September 2017. In the UK, meanwhile, where there had been mounting pressure to amend legislation, cases of fraudulent claims began to be heard by the courts. Proof against these claims was relatively easy to obtain from social media. Holidaymakers who had apparently succumbed to food poisoning were shown to have at the same time been enjoying their holidays.