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Prison for Brits for lying saying they had been sick during their vacation

Ⓒ AFP/Archivos – JAIME REINA – | Tourism in the beach of Palma, in Palma de Mallorca, 12 of August of 2017

A British couple were jailed on Friday for pretending they fell ill during their holiday in Spain to be compensated, a ruling with which authorities hope to end the “blast” of false cases of food poisoning.

Deborah Briton, 53, and her partner Paul Roberts, 43, said they and their two children had been sick during a holiday on the Spanish island of Mallorca in 2015 and 2016.

But a Liverpool court ruled that those claims were “a total and utter shame” and sentenced Briton to nine months in prison and Robert to 15.

“They both claimed that you and your two children, on two separate vacations, had fallen ill. It was a total and utter farce,” said Judge David Aubrey.

The couple, who tried to claim nearly £ 20,000 ($ 26,600, 22,500 euros), admitted all four counts of fraud in a lawsuit filed by travel agent Thomas Cook.

Aubrey said he hoped that this ruling would serve to end the “explosion” of similar cases.

“Those who may be tempted in the future to defend dishonest statements related to false illnesses during vacations, if they are investigated and brought to justice, whatever their circumstances, should expect a prison sentence,” he said.

A Thomas Cook spokesman said the judge’s decision “shows how serious the issue of fraudulent diseases has become.”

“We had to position ourselves to protect […] our customers from the minority that cheats the system,” he said.

“We hope this sends a clear message to tourists across the UK that lying about their experiences abroad can have very serious consequences.”

The British Ministry of Justice had requested this month data on these cases of claims for false holiday illnesses, which multiplied by seven in the last three years.

So far, tour operators used to keep these claims cases away from the courts to avoid legal entanglements with foreign countries, where legal costs may skyrocket.

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