Travel web fraudsters found guilty
A gang of fraudsters was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court this week, after swindling innocent holiday makers of £6 million.
Christakis Philippou, 62, Evangela Liogka, 38, and Timothy Entwisle, 56, are awaiting sentencing following their conviction on Tuesday 26 February. A further man Peter Kemp, 52, pleaded guilty and is also awaiting his sentence.
The gang took over five legitimate holiday companies in London between July 2003 and August 2006 and advertised bargain holidays that did not exist. Trading under various names, Ciao Travel, Onshine, Grayrise Associates, Orange Sun Ltd and Sun Orient took millions of pounds from customers. ABTA - the Travel Association and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) experienced large financial losses covering compensation and unpaid bills.
The extent of the criminal activity was exposed in August 2006 after a terrorist alert halted all flights from the UK. Large numbers of travellers began to check their flights and accommodation and discovered that no bookings existed for them. Victims complained to the authorities which led to a full investigation by police.
Mike Monk, ABTAs Head of Financial Services said, Together with the CAA and Teletext we have worked hard to bring these perpetrators to book, and to make our organisations as fraud proof as possible. Customers who booked with these companies were victims of criminal fraud. Our role as the leading travel association is to assist the police in identifying fraud and in prosecuting the perpetrators..."
Last year the group organised an eight month campaign, 'Stamp Out Fraud', with trade publication Travel Weekly and the Metropolitan Police to educate the travel industry on the impact of fraud on the industry and consumers. Today ABTA has been named as a 'Business Superbrand' in a poll of leading business brands.
Written by: Maxine Clarke