Jail sentences for train fraudsters

Two rail passengers from Pulborough who falsely claimed delay compensation for trips they did not take  have been given jail sentences.

They will also have to do community work and repay a combined total of more than £6,000 to Southern Railways.

Steven Martins, 49, and Nicole Phillips, 42, researched delayed trains online then submitted claims for delays, despite never travelling on the services.

Both pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation after an investigation found fraudulent claims totalling thousands of pounds.

Martins was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, ordered to pay Southern Rail compensation of £3,500 and will have to undertake 180 hours unpaid work.

Phillips was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for 12 months. She was ordered to repay £2,600 and was also given 120 hours unpaid work. Both were also ordered to pay £85 costs.

PC Michael Stephenson of British Transport Police said: “This was a carefully-organised and deliberate scam designed to defraud thousands of pounds from the railway industry. Phillips and Martins researched services that qualified for delay compensation on the internet.

“They managed to arouse suspicion after submitting an unusually large number of claims. CCTV was produced that clearly showed they had already made their journeys into London for work and hadn’t been anywhere near the delayed services at the time.

“This was an operation designed to defraud the railway of thousands of pounds set aside for passengers who have been genuinely inconvenienced by delays and disruption. Ultimately it is the travelling public who lose out through increases in fares to cover the cost of bogus claims like these.

“We hope this sends a clear message to anyone thinking of abusing the claims system in future.”

Stella Morris, Head of Security and Revenue Protection Strategy for Southern Railway, said: “We welcome genuine claims for delays to journeys of 30 minutes or more. However, this case demonstrates that if you abuse a scheme to compensate rail passengers who are delayed, it will be treated as serious fraud and prosecuted.

“Govia Thameslink Railway worked hard with British Transport Police to uncover this fraud and will continue to highlight to them those cases where we believe that fraudulent claims are being made.”

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