Doncaster student jailed for rail compensation scam

COURT: Court Case
COURT: Court Case

A Doncaster man has been jailed over a scam which saw him rake in thousands of pounds in fraudulent claims for compensation on rail tickets.

Andrew Hopper, 26, of Tickhill Road, Balby, used over 90 different alias names to claim compensation for delayed rail journeys over four years, and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment at Sheffield Crown Court, after pleading guilty to fraud by false representation against eight rail companies.

He appeared alongside his mother, Brenda Hopper, 57, also of Tickhill Road, Balby. who had pleaded guilty to money laundering, and was handed a six months suspended jail term, and house curfew during the hours of 6pm and 9am daily for one month.

The court heard how Andrew Hopper, who was a PHD student at Sheffield University, was arrested on 30 July 2009, in Doncaster railway station’s first class lounge, after rail staff became suspicious of him.

He has been using an Escape Privilege Pass which was provided by the station operator at the time, National Express. The passes provided benefits, which included complementary first class tickets, and were provided to companies who spent a set amount on train travel with the company. It was later discovered that they had been obtained using forged documents.

When Hopper was searched a number of rail tickets, disabled rail cards and envelopes, containing copies of receipts and money off vouchers were discovered.

A subsequent search of his house revealed a large number of letters outlining fraudulent compensation claims for rail tickets.

An in-depth investigation was launched, and it was discovered that Hopper had been using over 90 alias names and three addresses, his home address and two university addresses, to make the compensation claims to defraud the rail companies, and cover his tracks.

Where cheques were received as compensation, a number were found to have passed through bank accounts belonging to Brenda Hopper’s bank account.

Investigating officer for British Transport Police, Det Con Bob Hunt said: “This was a lengthy investigation which involved scrutinising hundreds of compensation claims made by the Hoppers and financial records from the train operators.

“Hopper, with the assistance of his mother, ran a sophisticated and well planned scam which defrauded rail companies of thousands of pounds.

“The timescale of his offending clearly demonstrated his belief that he could continue to offend without fear of detection.”