A recent report created by Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, revealed that in 2017 holiday fraud in the UK amounted to £6.7 million, with 4,700 holidaymakers affected. The average amount lost per person, at above £1,500, represents a 25% rise from the previous year. Further, Action Fraud’s report revealed that victims of holiday booking fraud claimed the impact of the crime had gone beyond just financial, with some saying it had also affected their health.
As a criminal defence barrister with expertise in defending individuals and businesses convicted of all types of fraud, I have seen a rise in the number of investigations and prosecutions for this crime. And with more and more people booking holidays online, it is likely investigations for this offence will continue to increase. If you are under suspicion for holiday booking fraud, it is important you are represented by a professional with expertise in this area. It is also essential that you instruct a fraud defence specialist at the earliest stage possible; the earlier you get the right legal advice, the better the outcome is likely to be. Contact me for expert fraud legal advice and defence representation today.
What is holiday booking fraud?
Holiday booking fraud is a form of fraud in which the perpetrator sells false flights, accommodation or holiday packages. The fake deals are designed to attract holidaymakers with reasonable prices, especially at peak times like school holidays and over Christmas. Action Fraud’s recent report found that the most common types of fraud in 2017 were sales of false airline tickets and accommodation.
What law applies to holiday booking fraud?
The Fraud Act 2006 applies to the offence of holiday fraud. Under the Act, fraud can be committed in three different ways:
- Fraud by false representation
- Fraud by failing to disclose
- Fraud by abuse of position
Holiday booking fraud comes within the definition of fraud by false representation. For this offence to be committed, the defendant must have dishonestly made a representation that he or she knows to be false with the intention to make a gain or cause loss, or risk of loss, to another.
For the act to be considered dishonest, the prosecution must show that the defendant’s behaviour would be regarded as dishonest by the standards of reasonable and honest people and that the defendant was aware his or her conduct was dishonest and would be regarded this way by reasonable and honest people.
What are the penalties for holiday booking fraud?
Hefty fines and prison sentences of up to 10 years can be given on conviction of any form of fraud by false misrepresentation. In any case, it is for the court to decide the defendant’s culpability, i.e. how blameworthy he or she is. In its decision, the court will consider all the circumstances, including:
- the level of harm caused
- the duration of the fraud
- the value of the fraud
- the extent to which the fraud was planned
- the impact on the victim(s)
- the extent to which any evidence was concealed
The court will also take into account any mitigating factors presented by the defendant’s legal representatives, such as:
- their level of cooperation with the authorities
- whether he or she has any mental illness or disability
- whether any money gained through the fraud was returned voluntarily
What should I do if I have been falsely accused of holiday fraud?
In some cases, customers can be quick to accuse a business or individual of fraud when in fact the issue is an easily fixable error or that the customer has not read the terms and conditions thoroughly. Being falsely accused of fraud can have a significant impact on your reputation and livelihood, especially if your bank account is temporarily or permanently closed as a result of the accusation. In the first place, you should attempt to solve the problem by communicating with the client. You should also provide your bank, or any other organisation involved, with evidence to back your position. If you are unable to resolve the situation in this way, you should seek legal advice on how to best protect your finances and reputation.
What should I do if I’m being investigated for holiday fraud?
If you have been notified that you are under investigation for holiday fraud, you should contact a criminal defence specialist for advice on your next steps. Investigation and prosecution authorities have highly sophisticated techniques and extensive powers for tackling fraud, and so it is essential that you are supported by a professional who can build a strong defence case on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected. Fraud is a highly complex area of the law and can involve lots of evidence. Your defence lawyer will carefully assess the case against you and build a robust strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.
Mark Kelly Fraud Defence Barrister in London, UK
My professional experience, approachability and considerable expertise mean that you will be in a very safe pair of hands when it comes to your defence, and my track record is second to none. I consistently obtain favourable results for clients accused of a variety of fraud and financial and regulatory cases.
I regularly assist clients in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Bristol and the rest of the UK. If you have any queries about issues raised in this blog, or if you want to discuss your case, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me directly on 020 8108 7186 or fill out the contact form and I will get back to you as soon as possible.