Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Walthamstow mother and son who ran fake holiday scam sentenced

The family set up a fake travel agent so accomplices could claim money back after it went "bust"

Hero for Walthamstow mother and son who ran fake holiday scam sentenced
Scam ringleader Mohun Bhajun (credit: Met Police)
By Victoria Munro 08 December 2021

A Walthamstow mother and son who helped run a fake holiday scam that raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds have been sentenced for fraud.

Mohun Raj Bhajun, 52, of Priory Avenue, set up fake travel agent Stay and Key Travel with his 73-year-old mother Mariam, of Folkestone Road, and his West London-based brother Roshan.

The company went “bust” in June 2014, after which 23 people who had paid for holidays submitted claims to recoup their money through the Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) scheme.

However, these customers - who claimed £268,766 in total - were actually the family, friends and associates of the Bhajuns and had never paid for their holidays in the first place.

Mohun's brother and fellow ringleader Roshan (credit: Met Police)

Speaking after the last fake customer was finally found guilty today, Detective Inspector Richard Ward said: “The painstaking work that has gone into this investigation cannot be done justice in words. 

“It is fair to say that, thanks to the tenacity, dedication and diligence of my team of detectives and with the support of the Civil Aviation Authority, those who set out to commit this fraud have been held to account.

“In addition to the sentences handed down by the court, confiscation proceedings have taken place to ensure that there is no benefit from this crime and compensation is paid to the Air Travel Trust for the fraudulent claims paid out before this matter was reported to police.”

Suspicions were raised about the claims because a number of the forms were completed first in pencil and then again in pen or were missing full contact details.

Police discovered the Bhajuns sent money to their “customers”, which was then sent back to them in order to provide a record of a “payment” from them. The same cash was then sent to the next accomplice so the process could be completed. 

The final member of the scam to be found guilty, Abdul Patel from Enfield, was the family’s accountant and will be sentenced on 19th January next year.

All three members of the family and nine “customers” have previously been found guilty and sentenced for conspiracy to defraud.

Mohun Bhajun and his West London brother Roshan were both sentenced to five years in jail, while their elderly Walthamstow mother Mariam received a two-year suspended sentence.

Their “customers” - mostly from North and East London - all received suspended sentences, ranging in length from half a year to two years, as well as orders to pay back any ill-gotten cash.