A fraudster, who encouraged people to falsely claim they had fallen ill on holiday and seek compensation before taking a cut for himself, has been jailed.
Brian Cromby, 34, stooped as low as handing out business cards advertising his services at charity events, Liverpool Crown Court was told on Friday (26 July).
Cromby, of Thornside Walk, Gateacre, admitted a charge of aiding or abetting fraud by false representation, for which he was jailed for 12 months.
Merseyside Police said Cromby encouraged package holidaymakers to falsely claim they had fallen sick as a result of food they had eaten or the condition of the accommodation they stayed in.
He subsequently profited from the fraudulent claims by taking a fee for referring people to solicitors, who then progressed their compensation claims.
A Mail on Sunday investigation, meanwhile, caught Cromby in the act when he advised two undercover reporters on how to make a fraudulent claim.
Jet2holidays was one of the package holiday companies targeted by claimants with connections to Cromby, the operator said following his conviction.
“Jet2holidays and the Mail on Sunday have led the way to stamp out the scourge of fake sickness claims, which was criminal fraud driven by unscrupulous claims management companies and individuals like Brian Cromby,” said Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.
“We are delighted to see justice served, and although we have already succeeded in changing the law to deter bogus sickness claims, we continue to investigate all claims robustly and the courts will very clearly not hesitate to punish anyone engaging in such fraud.”
The operator successfully campaigned, alongside others, to have a legal loophole shut significantly reducing payouts for claims made under the Package Travel Regulations, which also making defence costs predictable to deter bogus claims.
The Ministry of Justice estimated between 2013 and 2016, holiday sickness claims in the UK are thought to have increased 500% “partly fuelled by touts operating in European resorts”.
“Cromby is a calculating individual who actively persuaded others, many of whom had no previous convictions, to become involved in his criminal enterprise,” said Merseyside Police fraud investigator Clive Myerscough.
“On one occasion he even stooped as low as enlisting people to hand out business cards advertising his service at a charity boxing match that was raising money for cancer patients.
“People like Cromby who encourage people to make fraudulent claims against the travel industry also risk undermining genuine holiday sickness claims.
“I want to thank the journalists who reported his offending and assisted our investigation in bringing Cromby to justice. I hope his sentencing sends a clear message to anyone thinking about making a fraudulent claim puts themselves at risk of prosecution, a criminal record and even time in jail.”