NEARLY 800 British tourists have been identified by the Spanish police for claiming compensation in fake food poisoning scams.
The claims were made while the tourists were on all-inclusive holidays in the Balearic Islands.
A police probe was launched last summer after a surge in complaints which caused hotels to lose more than €60million.
Weak UK legislation on the issue reportedly made it possible for tourists to claim the full amount of compensation without proof. This meant that tourists were able to file the complaint against the hotel after they returned home, who refused to take the cases to court because of the high legal costs.
Officers have confirmed that nearly 800 tourists acted through more than 70 UK-based law firms. Allegedly, ‘lawyers’ would pick up clients in the hotels by telling them they could claim the cost of their holiday back by filing a food poisoning complaint.
The tourist would then contact the law firm once they returned to the UK, with some complaints not appearing until three years after the trip was made.
Police have accused the law firms of running a criminal network that has cheated the tourism industry out of millions. Their web pages often boasted high success rates for these types of claims and the firms would receive a percentage of the claim.
Officers believe that nearly 800 of these claims could be fake, based on how only a small number of tourists went to see the doctor about their illness or provided any form of proof during their holidays.
According to police reports, the amount of these claims has increased 700 per cent since last summer, in comparison with recent years. While most of these cases have been based in the Balearic islands, there have also been incidents reported on the Costa Blanca and the Canary Islands.
British authorities have pledged to fight this type of fraud and a couple from Liverpool has already been sentenced to two years in prison after claiming €22,000 for pretending to have received food poisoning from a Mallorca hotel.