Coventry lie detector test proves fraud case
A Coventry lie detector test could have recently helped police prove a fraud case.
A fraudster has conned holidaymakers into paying for fake Covid-19 ‘fit to fly’ certificates. The con took place at the height of the pandemic. Saranjeet Trina Kandola, from Leamington Spa, traded as ‘Travel Test Solutions Ltd’, a business that offered PCR tests for holidaymakers. The PCR test cost between £60 and £149 per person.
Warwickshire Country Council Trading Standards conducted an investigation into the fraud. The investigation took place after a customer reported that the certificates they had received were fake.
Kandola, who advertised on social media, visited the homes of customers to take swabs. These swabs should have then been tested at a laboratory. However, no laboratory tests were ever carried out and the Covid ‘free’ certificates issued were worthless.
Over a 17-day period, Kandola had agreed to provide at least 47 certificates resulting in almost £5,000. When Kandola realised she was being investigated she put a stop to her services.
The certificates provided by the business stated that testing had been completed out by a Coventry-based laboratory. All the certificates stated that they were negative for Covid-19. However, the laboratory told the ‘Travel Test Solutions Ltd’ customer who contacted them that they had not conducted any work for the business.
Using Fake names
Firstly, in order to hide her identity Kandola used a PayPal account in the name of her ex-partner. Secondly, she set up a website using a fake name and set up a limited company in the name of another person. And finally, to give the business further credit she used a fake Care Quality Commission number on the certificates.
Officers from Trading Standards were first alerted to Travel Test Solutions Ltd on December 21, 2020. They contacted the business on the same day, leading to the business stopping trading immediately.
At Coventry Magistrates’ Court Kandola pleaded guilty to five offences. Sentencing took place at Coventry Crown Court last week. Kandola will serve two years in jail for her crimes.
Prosecuting counsel, Eleanor Lake, asked the court to consider the risk of harm caused by the actions of Kandola. By providing fake negative Covid certification she allowed people to travel abroad. All at a time when the world was experiencing lockdowns, deaths and strains on health services during the Covid pandemic.
In mitigation, Natalie Berman representing Ms Kandola said that her client was extremely remorseful for her actions and accepted that the offences she had committed were, in 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, she did a stupid thing that she knows will have huge implications for her and her children.
Sentencing Kandola, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano at Coventry court said: “In terms of culpability there can be no doubt whatsoever that this is high culpability, sophisticated offending. It was fraudulent from the outset. You set up a company with the purpose of providing false certificates for money, you had access to a postal address, you posed as other identities, you used your ex-husband to purport to make him a director, set up a website, provided false certificates, carefully designed to look genuine.
“You only stopped offending when it was clear Trading Standards were investigating.
“In December 2020 the world was wracked by a deadly virus. 70,000 people died in the UK in 2020 and continued to die in their tens of thousands. A worse death count was only avoided by brutal lockdowns that separated families and ruined businesses.
“The effects and measures to contain it are incalculable. It was in this context that you chose to take advantage of the system by giving false results to make money.
“The seriousness is not the £5,000 you have made. You ignored the restrictions put in place for your own financial gain.
“You don’t care about the risk of this disease and wanted 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.
Compensation for victims
Kandola will not be a company director for seven years and is to pay compensation to one of the victims.
Coventry 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-19 free when they could very well have had the virus”
How a lie detector test could have helped
In conclusion, a lie detector test in this case could have proven Kandola guilty at earlier stage. Therefore, resulting in a reduced amount of fraud victims. Adding a lie detector test at interrogation stages results in police having an extra indicator when making a decision on whether a suspect is guilty or not. The added scientific test means police have more evidence and facts to take into their final opinion and charges.
We provide confidential office appointments and home tests throughout the West Midlands.