British mother faces prison over '£9.5m Spanish food poisoning scam'December 1, 2023
British mother faces more than six years in prison over a ‘£9.5m Spanish holiday food poisoning scam where tourists were convinced to lie they had been ill and sue for compensation’
A glamorous British mother could face more than six years in prison after being accused of being part of a food poisoning scam on the Spanish island of Majorca.
Laura Holmes Cameron, who hails from Essex, is one of eight people alleged to have convinced tourists to lie about being ill so they could claim compensation from hotels on the island.
Spanish detectives say the alleged scheme, which came to light in 2017, saw them target three hotel groups on the Balearic island in the space of two years and could have cost the businesses up to £9.6million.
The 44-year-old, who is also known as Laura Joyce, is accused of setting up a company with her brother which prosecutors say was actually a ‘profit-motivated organised gang’.
Authorities have alleged that Holmes Cameron and her brother Marc Cameron Grinstead are the ringleaders and have charged them with fraud and membership of a criminal gang.
Laura Holmes Cameron, Essex-born owner of a notorious Magaluf bar, now faces trial
Laura Holmes Cameron (left ) is pictured with her mother Deborah who was investigated but freed with no further action taken
Pregnant Laura Cameron arriving at court in Majorca, September 7, 2017
Six other Britons have also been charged and named as Ryan Bridges, Simon Robert Flanagan, Tegan Jewel Sumerlee, Susan Amanda Lyle, Nicola Marie Sanderson, and Peter Carl Murphy.
In documents seen by the Sun, the Majorca Hoteliers Federation has called for the 44-year-old to be jailed for six-and-a-half years if convicted – five if she is found guilty of aggravated fraud, and another one-and-a-half if convicted of belonging to a criminal gang.
The publication claims the organisation is calling for her brother to be jailed for five years if convicted – four years for fraud and 12 months for membership of a criminal gang.
READ MORE HERE: Eight Brits are charged over ‘fake Spanish holiday food poisoning scam where tourists were convinced to lie that they had been ill and sue for compensation’
It said Bridges should get the same sentence as Cameron Grinstead if found guilty, as he is the one accused of processing the fake food poisoning claims while knowing they were not genuine.
The organisation is also demanding that the other Britons should be jailed for three years and nine months if found guilty, with all members made to pay compensation.
A date for the trial has not yet been set and Spanish prosecutors have not yet said what sentences and fines they are seeking.
In a hard-hitting six-page ruling issued by an investigating court in Majorca earlier this year, the suspects were accused of forming a ‘profit-motivated organised gang’ through a Spanish company the pair set up called Elite Project Marketing SL.
It said: ‘The gang specialised in obtaining the details of British tourists in all-inclusive hotels in Majorca, it convinced… [them] to falsely claim they had been ill during their stay in one of those hotels… to claim compensation in the UK.’
It added: ‘The amount of compensation obtained in the UK with the consequent damage it caused tour operators and hotels significantly exceeded £176,000.’
Reports at the time of Holmes Cameron’s arrest in September 2017 described hoteliers’ losses as a result of the scam as ‘multi-million.’
Laura Holmes Cameron (right) and her mother Deborah Cameron, who was previously held in the probe but freed with no further action was taken
Laura Holmes Cameron (pictured) was prosecuted under her maiden and not her married name of Laura Joyce
Laura Holmes Cameron pictured with her husband Stuart Holmes
Detectives were also said at the time to have estimated up to £9.6million the losses of the three hotel groups whose fraud claims sparked the Civil Guard-led Operation Claims.
Investigating judge Maria Perez Ruiz admitted in her key court ruling made public today that the final figure defrauded has yet to be determined, as she invited prosecutors involved in the case to submit indictments.
The eight suspects have been accused of fraud and membership of a criminal gang, with the crimes they are alleged to have committed occurring in 2016 and 2017.
Bridge has been described as ‘one of the people tasked in England with processing the false claims’.
The other five Brits were reportedly paid on commission ‘hired by the two siblings to go to different hotels and get tourists’ personal details including details that would enable the consumption of meals in hotels to be linked to supposed food poisoning’.
Four other Britons were identified in the investigation but they have been provisionally archived because their whereabouts is unknown and they have not been formally questioned.
The investigating judge made her key court ruling after rejecting an attempt by lawyers acting for Holmes Cameron and Bridge to shelve the case against them, stating ‘several indications of criminality existed.’
She said in her ruling that only 38 of the 800 holidaymakers staying at Club Mac Alcudia who submitted compensation claims had asked for medical assistance.
A state prosecutor and private prosecutors acting for the hotels affected will now be invited to submit indictments failing a last appeal by the suspects. A trial date would then be set.
Laura Holmes Cameron with her husband Stuart Holmes
The alleged criminal gang was accused of targeting all-inclusive hotels in Majorca with the bogus claims
The judge said in her ruling that only 38 of the 800 holidaymakers staying at Club Mac Alcudia (pictured) who submitted compensation claims had asked for medical assistance
Holmes Cameron’s lawyer Gabriel Llado said after his client appeared in court in May 2018 in a closed hearing that she had admitted to passing on the names and phone numbers of holidaymakers for payment but insisted it was part of a pure market research exercise.
He insisted neither Holmes Cameron or any of the so-called ‘claims farmers’ she used to gather data of tourists she passed on to others in the UK, encouraged them to get chemist’s receipts so they could make fake food poisoning claims as police and hoteliers’ representatives have claimed.
And he claimed his client had spent just a few months doing it and stopped because she was earning very little.
Holmes Cameron’s mother Deborah Cameron was previously held in the probe but freed with no further action was taken.
The wealthy mother was also held at the luxury villa in upmarket Bendinat the pair then shared near the glamorous Majorcan port of Puerto Portals which police raided, but was freed before she went to court.
After Holmes Cameron was arrested, it emerged her Magaluf bar Playhouse had been identified as the venue where a British tourist was filmed performing sex acts on 24 men for a cheap drink in the summer of 2014.
The fallout from the infamous video sparked a crackdown on bar crawls in the party resort after regional governors described the ‘outrageous’ sex scenes as giving the area and women ‘a terrible image’ and promised to ‘stop it whichever way’ they could.
Laura Holmes Cameron and husband Stuart Holmes’ bar Heroes in Puerto Portals, was raided by police in 2017
Peter Carl Murphy (left) is among the other suspects alleged to have been involved
Holmes Cameron, who was not at her bar when the incident occurred, shut Playhouse down soon after.
The British government announced new measures to clamp down on fake holiday sickness claims as a result of scandals like the Majorca fake food poisoning scam.
The same year of the Majorca arrests, Benidorm hotel association HOSBEC estimated British guests’ were costing Spanish hotels around £55 million in bogus food poisoning claims.
Some reports at the time even claimed Brits were facing a holiday ban in some all-inclusive Costa hotels.
Many fraudsters were caught out after private detectives hired by hotels trawled their social media and discovered they had been posting photos of themselves eating and drinking when they later claimed to insurers they had been in bed with diarrhoea.
One family who claimed their holiday was ruined by food poisoning were jailed in February 2021 after Facebook photos revealed them enjoying the waterslide and bar throughout the trip.
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