A warning has been issued to would-be train ticket fraudsters as to the potential consequences of cheating rail companies of travel fares.

It follows the jailing of a serial rail ticket cheat who abused the passenger refund facility on LNER services to line his own pockets.

Paul James King received a prison sentence of almost two years at York Crown Court for his repeated con, carried out over seven months, whereby he bought digital tickets which he sold on to fellow football fans.

He then applied for refunds both before and after the tickets were used.

The Northern Echo: Train ticket fraudster jailed for repeated refund con on LNER rail services

The 35-year-old fraudster, from Leeds, bought more than £4,000 worth of tickets between November 2021 and May 2022.

But of these, the court heard £3,246 worth were refunded, having been used for travel in any case.

Staff at LNER’s Customer Contact Centre became suspicious of the level of refunds in King’s name, as well as the increasingly elaborate reasons provided to have his payment paid back.

These included claims of repeated illnesses of family members.

It prompted the suspicious contact centre personnel to refer the matter to LNER’s internal Fraud Investigations team.

Following an investigation by LNER, in conjunction with British Transport Police, King was charged with a section seven fraud offence of making or supplying articles for use in frauds.

He later continued his fraudulent activity by altering a letter from the NHS to make it appear as if he was fit to undertake unpaid work in an attempt to influence the judge’s sentencing options.

Upon discovery of that intended con, King was additionally charged with doing an act or acts intended or tending to pervert the course of justice.

The court also heard that the defendant has previous convictions for fraud which were deemed an aggravating factor in his case, as King was handed a total 22-month prison sentence.

The Northern Echo:

Paul Larder, who heads LNER’s Risk and Assurance section, said: “This case should be a warning to anyone thinking about defrauding the railway.

“This cheat was spotted by colleagues in our Customer Contact Centre, but on top of that, we’re also now using AI to look for unusual patterns in our refunds.

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"The defendant in this case was selling cheap tickets to fellow football fans."

“The clear advice is to only buy tickets from reputable outlets or direct from LNER.”

The company operates services using more than 50 stations along the East Coast route, from London to Edinburgh, including several in the North East and North Yorkshire.