Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Outrage That Tightened The False Claims' Net

Are we witnessing an end to the holiday sickness compensation claims' frauds in Mallorca? The arrests this week might suggest so, but these are arrests in respect of the on-the-ground scamming. It is only one ploy used by the claims farming companies in the UK who are engaged in a conspiracy to get others (holidaymakers) to commit fraud. Hence why Abta earlier this week sounded a warning about a further rise in the number of claims coinciding with the end of the peak holiday season. The claims farmers are busy contacting potential clients who might be attracted to a spot of fraud to pay off the credit card and to make a profit on the holiday. Phoning, social media are just two means. They are also brazenly advertising. There is a sickness in the UK justice system that can facilitate this; it is just as sick as the activities of claims farmers and as the alleged sicknesses the clients have (or rather don't have).

Scams such as this have a certain power to make communities come together in rejecting them. In Alcudia there used to be the scratch card time-sharing scammers. Local people, be they business people or residents, used to confront some of the "tiqueteros". Take your rotten trade somewhere else. Eventually, after all the denunicas, the fines got so great that the operation suddenly shut down and disappeared. It's similar with the false claims. When two women were identified locally in Alcudia as being ones making approaches to holidaymakers, they were confronted. Not so long after they were arrested. It isn't just the hoteliers who are outraged, so are local people. Scammers should never underestimate the power of such outrage.

Those arrests earlier this summer were bound to have meant that the net was closing in. And so it has. But what business there was to be had. Alcudia's Club Mac, the all-inclusive complex commonly cited in respect of the fraudulent claims, has more than 2,000 places. Figure it out for yourselves. Where the "tiqueteros" were concerned, even one per cent success rate of claims being made equated to something like a thousand quid in commissions. Club Mac was being taken for over four million euros last year. This related to just under 800 guests. A claims rate of, say, 2.5% over a sixteen-week period might not have been massive, but then it didn't need to be. It was like shelling peas.

The Mallorca Hoteliers Federation has congratulated the Guardia Civil for its arrests. The federation says that it will be part of legal procedures taken. It is "expectant" about the outcome of the Guardia's operation. So will be others. Meanwhile, one finds it remarkable that approaches could still be made by those claims farmers using social media and other means. The UK press has done an excellent job in exposing what has been going on, especially The Mail. For once I am more than happy to praise the paper.

Anyone in the UK who fancies dabbling in a spot of fraud should take note, as they should also take note of the communications from Tui and Thomas Cook warning firms and clients that they risk criminal proceedings. One firm has been suspended. Others will surely follow. The net is tightening, and one hopes that all life will be squeezed out of the scam. There are people in Alcudia who are cheering.

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