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Over the past week a number of our education sector clients have contacted us to discuss acts of potential fraud by travel companies.
Typically, a school transfers significant amounts of money to be used as a payment or a deposit for a school trip.
Often the schools do all the right things, checking the travel company appears reputable, and ensuring it advertises itself as carrying all applicable ABTA and ATOL protections.
The supposedly reputable travel company requests a large amount of money as a deposit or partial payment towards a proposed school trip. The unsuspecting school trip organiser transfers the money, which can amount to tens of thousands of pounds. The travel company then fails to provide the proposed school trip and refuses to transfer the money back to the innocent party.
The travel company then turns out not to be protected by ABTA or ATOL; a fraudulent director of the travel company misappropriates the transferred money and the school is left significantly out of pocket.
This should act as a warning to anybody working in the education sector who deals with the organisation of school trips and any private individuals who are planning to part with a substantial sum of money to pay for their holiday.
Before you book a holiday or trip, check whether the proposed travel company is an ABTA member – a search can be conducted here, and whether it holds an ATOL certificate – a search can be conducted here.
If you or a colleague has experienced a situation similar to that described above, please do not hesitate to contact our Disputes Team here, which has significant experience in dealing with education sector disputes and claims involving substantial fraud, injunctions, asset tracing and other remedies.