Jail for Warwickshire mum who sold fake Covid test certificates
A WARWICKSHIRE fraudster who conned holidaymakers into paying for fake Covid-19 ‘fit to fly’ certificates has been jailed for two years.
Saranjeet Trina Kandola, 41, traded as Travel Test Solutions Ltd, offering PCR tests for holidaymakers costing between £60 and £149 per person.
A concerned customer contacted Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards which investigated and found that no laboratory tests were ever carried out and the Covid-free certificates were worthless.
After pleading guilty to five offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 at Coventry Magistrates Court on 13th April, Kandola, of South View Road, Leamington Spa, was sentenced last Wednesday (11th May).
Prosecuting, Eleanor Lake, asked the court to consider the risk of harm that might foreseeably have been caused by Kandola’s actions which would have allowed people to travel abroad at a time when the world was experiencing unprecedented lockdowns, deaths and strains on health services.
In mitigation Natalie Berman said that her client was extremely remorseful for her actions and accepted that the offences she had committed were, on any view, despicable against the background of what the world was experiencing at that time.
Ms Berman stated that Kandola was struggling financially to support her three children and did a stupid thing which she knows will have huge implications for her and her children.
Sentencing Kandola, Judge De Bertodano said: "The seriousness is not the £5,000 you obtained – I have no doubt had Trading Standards not become involved you would have carried on offending and made a great deal more.
“You determinedly undermined the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus for your own financial gain. You were prepared to risk spreading this deadly disease to make money. It is difficult to think of a more cynical way to take advantage of the global crisis or a more contemptuous way to undermine the sacrifice made by others.”
As well as a custodial sentence, Kandola was disqualified from being a company director for seven years. She was ordered to pay compensation to one of the victims and required to pay a victim surcharge.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “It is unbelievable that someone should seek to attempt to scam holidaymakers in this way, leading people to believe that they were Covid-free when they could very well have had the virus.”
“He added: I’m delighted that Warwickshire Trading Standards officers acted quickly to uncover this fraud and prevent other holidaymakers losing out.”