Simon Dinham took advantage of his job at a travel agents to create false invoices to claim on

A fraudster has been jailed after using his position at a travel agents to make a £16,000 false travel insurance claim.

As well as making the false claim on a trip to Las Vegas, Simon Dinham also used his job to steal £53,000 from customers by taking their money and not booking their agreed flights.

On Friday he was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court for abusing his position as director at Thomas William Travel.

Dinham, 31, of Colombo Crescent, Weston Super Mare, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of fraud by false representation.

He was sentenced to eight months in prison. 

Fake invoices

The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) became aware of Dinham’s fraudulent activity when it was referred to them by Direct Line Group.

Dinham claimed that he, his wife and their two children were unable to go on their booked trip to Las Vegas as his mother-in-law had been admitted to hospital.

To substantiate his claim, Dinham provided a Virgin Holidays booking invoice and cancellation invoice. 

Direct Line contacted Virgin Holidays to verify the invoices and discovered he’d actually booked the holiday directly through them and not through Thomas William Travel, as stated in the invoices Dinham had submitted to Direct Line.

Dinham was able to do this as he was the director of Thomas William Travel at the time the invoices were submitted. 

Virgin Holidays also confirmed that they’d cancelled Dinham’s Las Vegas booking as he had not paid the balance of his holiday.

He’d only ever paid a £700 deposit and not the further instalments. 

On 15 June 2016, IFED officers carried out a search warrant at Dinham’s home address.

He was arrested and was later interviewed under caution, where he made a full confession to the offence.

Mike Brown, head of counter fraud intelligence at Direct Line Group, said: “Dinham attempted to deceive Direct Line Group in order to obtain over £16,000, by producing falsified booking and cancellation invoices for his holiday to Las Vegas.

“During this investigation the true extent to Mr Dinham’s fraudulent operations were discovered. Mr Dinham’s sentence should serve as a stark warning to those who seek to commit insurance fraud in the future.”

Further crimes

The investigation went on to uncover the vast amount of money Dinham had stolen from customers who booked holidays with him.

This first came to light when it was discovered by Weston College that he’d stolen their money for an educational trip to Poland, totalling £10,000, and hadn’t booked the flights. 

The staff then had to find 32 flights to Poland at short notice so the trip could still go ahead – this cost the college an extra £11,000 on top of the £10,000 that Dinham had diverted into his own account.

City of London Police detective constable Katy Goulding, who led the IFED investigation, said: “Dinham showed he cared very little for other people, as he was happy to abuse his position as director of his travel agency to not only steal their money, but also ruin their holidays.

“He also wasn’t fazed by using his family’s names to commit his crimes. Nor did he mind ripping off students who tend to have a very limited income.

“With the help of Direct Line Group and staff at Weston College, our IFED were able to uncover the multiple crimes Dinham committed, which showed both the extent of his greed and also his willingness to deceive.”