A recent report spoke of a British couple who were arrested and jailed for two years, after falsely claiming they suffered food poisoning on their vacation in Mallorca, Spain. More British tourists are likely facing a similar fate, as Spanish Police identify 800 people who have claimed compensation for fake gastric illnesses.

Probe against fake food poisoning claims is seeing success

Spanish police launched a probe last summer after a huge increase in Food Poisoning complaints, causing hotels to lose around $71 million. The claims came after British tourists had enjoyed all-inclusive vacations mainly in Spain’s Balearic Islands.

As reported by the Independent, U.K. law is weak on this particular issue and allows the tourists to claim compensation, with no real proof they suffered the illness as a result of their hotel stay. Basically all they needed was a receipt to show they had bought some form of medical remedy from a pharmacy to treat their ailing stomachs. Tourists then return home and file a complaint against the hotel in question, with hotels paying up, leery to take the claims to court, due to high legal costs.

800 British tourists involved in fake gastric illness claims

Deutsche Welle reports that Spanish police have now confirmed that almost 800 British tourists used the services of around 70 law firms in the U.K.

The “lawyers” in question would attract clients at the hotels by letting them know they can get back the cost of their vacation by making a food poisoning complaint against their hotel. On returning home to the U.K., the tourist would then get in touch with the law firm for assistance with their fake food poisoning claim. Some tourists reportedly took up to three years to claim compensation.

The law firms in question have now been accused by police of running a criminal network which has basically cheated the Spanish tourism industry out of millions of euros. On checking the law firms’ websites, the firms claim a high success rate for the fake food poisoning claims, for which they would receive a tasty percentage of the proceeds.

As reported in September, police also previously busted a number of fraudsters involved in the fake illness scheme, including a British insurance company, which lost its license over running the illegal scam.

Only a small number of the British tourists had visited a doctor about their alleged gastric illnesses and few gave any proof of food poisoning while still on vacation in Spain. This has led police to believe that almost 800 of the health claims are likely to be fake.

700 percent increase in gastric illness claims by tourists

Police reports stated that the number of food poisoning claims has increased by some 700 percent following the last summer season, as compared with previous years.

The majority of the cases were against hotels in Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca in the Balearic Islands; however some incidents have also been reported in the Canary Islands and on the Costa Blanca. Since police opened the investigation into the food poisoning claims, some that were still pending have reportedly been withdrawn.

British authorities are cooperating with their counterparts in Spain and have pledged to fight against this type of blatant fraud. The first sign of this cooperation was the arrest of 43-year-old Paul Roberts and his partner, 53-year-old Deborah Briton, who claimed for food poisoning on two occasions, on two consecutive years, while staying at the same Mallorca hotel. That couple defrauded the tourism industry for $26,000, which ended up being paid by their travel agent and made the mistake of telling their Facebook friends about their fabulous vacation.