Couple get two years in jail after they were caught lying about food poisoning
Everybody lies now and then. Whether it's something innocent like telling a friend that you honestly do think their outfit looks good, or something a little more serious like botching your career history on your resume, we all do it.
One of the most common lies people tell pertains to illness - more specifically: claiming to be sick in order to take a day off work. Is it dishonest? Yes. Should you do it? No. Have you done it anyway, knowing full well that you were lying to your boss and - if you got paid for it - committing fraud? Probably.
Even so, there are far worse things that people fib about when it comes to health complaints.
Paul Roberts and Deborah Briton, a couple from Wallasey in the UK, were caught-out after lying about contracting 'diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fever, lethargy and nausea' over the course of two separate holidays in 2015 and 2016. The pair had said that they had suffered food poisoning during both vacations, and subsequently claimed nearly £20,000 ($26,500) in compensation from the travel firm Thomas Cook.
Claims of this sort have increased by 600% in the last few years, which some think is due to 'gastric problems' being very difficult to either prove or disprove - and therefore are fairly easy to make complaints about. In the past, whiplash was often submitted as a reason for compensation claim, but since claim handlers capped the cost for such cases, it is now more lucrative to go after food poisoning complaints.
However, in an unprecedented move, Thomas Cook launched a private criminal prosecution of Roberts and Briton. After doing some investigating, the firm found that Briton had announced her family's return from the 2015 vacation in a Facebook post that said, 'safely home after two weeks of sun, laughter and fun' - hardly something one would write if they'd spent most of the trip in the bathroom.
Likewise, in 2016, the fraudster said that she'd had a 'fantastic holiday' on social media.
As a result, the couple were easily caught out, and sentenced to two years in jail between them. Roberts received a 15-month sentence, whereas Briton got away with just nine months.
When sentencing the couple, the judge made his opinions very clear. 'You thought it would be easy money,' he said, before issuing a warning to anybody else that was tempted to make similar bogus claims.
A spokesperson for the travel firm issued a statement on the matter. It said:
'The sentence handed down today demonstrates how serious the issue of fraudulent illness claims has become. This is a particularly sobering case but reflects what is going on across the UK travel industry, so we had to take a stand to protect our holidays and our customers from the minority who cheat the system.
'We hope it sends a clear message to holidaymakers across the UK that the consequences for lying about their experience abroad could be very serious.'
It just goes to show: cheaters never prosper, and karma has a way of getting back at the greedy ones.