A woman set up a fake travel agency and took eight cruises worth £55,000 to get revenge on a company who cut her holiday short because she lost her passport.
Kay Hooper, a former nurse, stayed in Penthouse accommodation on board Norwegian Cruise Line ships for sailings over five months, travelling to Bermuda, the Mediterranean and Canada.
She set up the fake business, called Travel Connections, from Great Torrington, Devon, after filling in an online form with Abta. Hooper was able to book the cruises without paying a deposit because she told Norwegian that her business was part of the Freedom Travel group, according to The Times. She had planned to continue the scam and had booked 54 cruises costing more than £300,000 through 2016 and into 2017.
The company realised what was going on after they noticed she had taken eight cruises between April and September last year.
Hooper admitted fraud and was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for two years, given a six-month curfew and ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge by Recorder Timothy Rose at Exeter crown court.
The retired nurse lives on a £270 NHS pension in a rented house with her husband.
Judge Rose made no order for compensation after being told Norwegian was suing her in the civil courts for the £55,493.05 cost of the cruises and £113,827.25 in unpaid deposits for the cancelled trips.
The judge said: “You turned yourself into a form of fictitious travel agency and directed your attention against a particular company with which you had previously been a customer.
“You told the police this was because of the way you had been treated when you had problems on a cruise and felt you had been abandoned without help in Rome, although you did receive £750 compensation for this.
“There is no doubt at all this was a sustained piece of dishonesty. It was moderately sophisticated and required some computer literacy to set it up, but you were bound to be found out.”
The sentence was suspended because of Hooper’s previous unblemished record, poor health, and the fact that she is a carer for her mother.