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Eight Britons charged with ‘fake Spanish food poisoning scam’

Eight Britons have been charged in a Spanish food poisoning scam in which tourists were tricked into lying about being sick to claim compensation, a court has said.

The two alleged criminal leaders, Laura Holmes Cameron and her brother Marc Cameron Grimstead, were accused of attacking all-inclusive hotels in Mallorca with the false claims.

Detectives say three hotel groups may have lost as much as £9.5 million as a result of the scam.

Holmes Cameron, the Essex-born owner of a notorious Magaluf bar, is now on trial along with her sibling and six of their alleged accomplices who were hired to convince tourists to make the claims.

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Laura Holmes Cameron (right) is pictured with her mother Deborah who was investigated but not charged in the investigation

A harsh, six-page ruling from an investigative court in Mallorca accuses the suspects of forming an “organized for-profit gang” through a Spanish company the pair founded, called Elite Project Marketing SL.

It adds: ‘The gang specialized in obtaining the details of British tourists in all-inclusive hotels in Mallorca and convinced them, through a form they had prepared themselves, to falsely claim that they had been ill during their stay in one of those hotels and were able to claim damages in the UK.’

It adds: ‘The amount of damages obtained in the UK from consequential damage caused by tour operators and hotels has exceeded £175,000 considerably.’

Reports at the time of Laura’s arrest in September 2017 described hoteliers’ losses from the scam as “millions.”

Detectives at the time estimated that three hotel groups whose fraud claims sparked the Civil Guard-led operation lost £9.5 million.

Investigating Judge Maria Perez Ruiz admitted in her court ruling made public today that the final amount of the fraud has yet to be determined as she invited prosecutors involved in the case to file charges.

The eight suspects have been charged with fraud and membership of a criminal gang, the crimes they allegedly committed in 2016 and 2017.

The alleged criminal gang was accused of attacking all-inclusive hotels in Mallorca with the false claims

The alleged criminal gang was accused of attacking all-inclusive hotels in Mallorca with the false claims

They are Laura Holmes Cameron, persecuted under her virgin and not her married name of Laura Joyce; her brother Marc; Ryan Bridge; Simon Robert Flanagan; Tegan Jewel Sumerlee; Susan Amanda Lyle, Nicola Marie Sanderson; and Peter Carl Murphy.

Bridge, previously called the sole director of holiday claims in the UK, has been described as ‘one of the people charged with handling the false claims in England’.

The other five Britons have been described as being paid on commission “hired by the two siblings to go to different hotels and obtain tourists’ personal details, including details that the consumption of meals in hotels may be associated with.” be brought with alleged food poisoning’.

Four other Britons were identified in the investigation, but they have been provisionally archived because their whereabouts are unknown and they have not been formally questioned.

The investigating judge made her key ruling after rejecting an attempt by attorneys acting on behalf of Holmes Cameron and Bridge to suspend the case against them, stating that there were “various indications of criminality.”

She said in her ruling that only 38 of the 800 holidaymakers who stayed at Club Mac Alcudia and filed a claim requested medical attention.

A prosecutor and private prosecutors acting on behalf of the affected hotels will now be invited to press charges in the absence of a final appeal by the suspects. A trial date would then be set.

The judge said in her ruling that only 38 of the 800 holidaymakers who stayed at Club Mac Alcudia (pictured) and filed a claim for damages requested medical attention

The judge said in her ruling that only 38 of the 800 holidaymakers who stayed at Club Mac Alcudia (pictured) and filed a claim for damages requested medical attention

Holmes Cameron’s lawyer Gabriel Llado said after his client appeared in court in a closed hearing in May 2018 that she admitted giving over the names and phone numbers of holidaymakers for a fee, but insisted it was part of a purely marketing research.

He insisted that neither Holmes Cameron nor any of the so-called “claim farmers” she used to collect data from tourists that she passed on to others in the UK were encouraging them to get pharmacists’ coupons so they could make false food poisoning claims as police and hoteliers. representatives have claimed.

And he claimed that his client had only been on it for a few months and stopped because she was making very little.

Holmes Cameron’s mother, Deborah Cameron, was previously detained in the investigation, but no further action was taken.

The wealthy mother was also held in the luxury villa in posh Bendinat. The pair then shared near the glamorous Mallorcan port of Puerto Portals, where police raided but were released before going to court.

After Holmes Cameron was arrested, it emerged that her Magaluf bar Playhouse had been identified as the location where a British tourist engaged in sexual acts with 24 men over a cheap drink in the summer of 2014.

The fallout from the infamous video led to a crackdown on pub crawls in the party town after regional governors described the “outrageous” sex scenes as a “terrible image” for the district and women and vowed to “stop it any way they can.”

Holmes Cameron, who was not in her bar when the incident happened, closed Playhouse shortly afterwards.

The UK government has announced new measures to combat false claims for holiday sickness following scandals such as the mock food poisoning scam in Mallorca.

In the same year of the arrests in Mallorca, Benidorm hotel association HOSBEC estimated that British guests cost Spanish hotels around £55 million in false food poisoning claims.

Some reports at the time even claimed Britons were facing a holiday ban in some all-inclusive Costa hotels.

Many fraudsters were caught after private investigators hired by hotels scoured their social media and found they had posted pictures of themselves eating and drinking, later claiming to insurers that they had been in bed with diarrhea.

A family who claimed their vacation was ruined by food poisoning was jailed in February 2021 after Facebook photos showed them enjoying the waterslide and bar during the trip.