Dozens of British citizens have been identified after making fake claims of food poisoning to pay for their holidays in Spain. British authorities have vowed to punish those involved in the criminal scheme.
Spanish police on Friday said they identified some 800 British tourists suspected of making fake food poisoning claims to win compensation after visiting Spain's Balearic Islands on holidays.
At least 77 law firms allegedly used by the identified tourists to file their complaints have been placed under investigation, according to Spanish authorities.
The law firms "orchestrated a possible criminal network based on fake claims that have generated significant economic damage to the Balearic and Spanish tourist sector," police said in a statement.
Spanish police said that the Balearic Islands, which include Ibiza and Mallorca, witnessed a 700-percent rise in sickness claims from January 2016 to the end of September 2017, amounting to 4.5 million euros ($5.3 million) in damages.
In July, UK Justice Secretary David Lidington warned British holidaymakers making false sickness claims, saying "your actions are damaging and will not be tolerated."
"This government is absolutely determined to tackle the compensation culture which has penalized the honest majority for too long," Lidington said.
Read more: Brexit and Britons in Mallorca
The growing phenomenon of fake food poisoning claims prompted British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to claim earlier this year that Britons' digestive systems had "become the most delicate in the world."
In 2016, the number of British tourists visiting Spain witnessed a major spike, hitting 17.8 million people to mark a 12-percent increase on the previous year.
ls/rc (AFP, EBU)