Fraud: British agencies encourage tourists to file false sickness claims in Portugal

Fraudulent scheme in all-inclusive hotels, encouraged by tour operators, incites false food poisoning and claims for reimbursement.

British tourists are being encouraged to make false claims of food poisoning to insurance companies to receive compensation. Due to this crime there are already hotels damaged by 60 million euros and arrests of people involved with the operators in Spain.

The scheme “began to make considerable impact in Spain with the raising of offices of unscrupulous lawyers and employees who circulated in vans next to the hotels, saying Get Your Holidays for Free,” explained Cristina Siza Vieira, president Of the Hospitality Association of Portugal (AHP), to TVI24.

Similar cases have been reported in Portugal, Greece and Turkey. “We do not have exact numbers. In general, for three years this type of fraud has increased by 500%, especially in Spain, but in Portugal as well, “Sean Tipton of ABTA, the UK Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators, told TVI. Recently Safe Communities Portugal met with ABTA in the UK and has published advice on this matter.

But how do guests and operators go unpunished? A blackmail is orchestrated that pushes for out-of-court settlements to avoid judgments after complaints have been made. As British law is very comprehensive and allows complaints to be made up to three years after the alleged gastric disease, tourists and lawyers have the power over the situation.

The Algarve and Madeira are the most visited tourist destinations in Portugal, but there are few hotel groups that do all-inclusive activities, so the scope of fraud is not as serious in Portugal as in the neighbouring country.

In an interview with TVI24, official source of the Pestana group said that it had “about 20 complaints” at the end of last year. Complaints that are related to stays in 2014 “and that, both during the stays and later, never reported anything, neither the travel agent nor the hotel. In these cases, the Pestana group declines any responsibility indicating that they now follow the normal course.

The Group further emphasizes that its hotels are audited in a rigorous and regular manner, with a “concern of those responsible for complying with the guidelines given by the auditors in accordance with the best practices and legal requirements in force in matters of food hygiene and safety. “It concludes that unfounded claims will not be viable in the Group.

 


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