Warwickshire mum jailed for selling fake Covid travel certificates during pandemic

Saranjeet Trina Kandola, 41, traded as Travel Test Solutions Ltd, offering PCR tests at the height of the pandemic. Credit: PA Images

A mum of three from Leamington Spa in Warwickshire who tricked holidaymakers into paying for fake Covid-19 travel certificates has been jailed for two years.

Saranjeet Trina Kandola, 41, traded as Travel Test Solutions Ltd, offering PCR tests at the height of the pandemic.

The tests would cost between £60 and £149 per person.Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards conducted an investigation into the fraudulent company after a customer became concerned that the certificates they had received were fake. 

Kandola, who advertised on social media, visited the homes of customers to take swabs that should then have been tested at a laboratory.However, no laboratory tests were ever carried out and the 'Covid-free' certificates issued were meaningless.

Kandola was jailed for two years at Coventry Crown Court Credit: Telegraph/BPM Media

An investigation uncovered that over a 17-day period, Kandola had agreed to provide at least 47 certificates, obtaining almost £5,000. 

She only stopped marketing her services when she found out she was being investigated by Trading Standards.

It was found that certificates provided by the business stated that testing had been carried out by a Coventry-based laboratory and 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.

In order to hide her identity, Kandola used a PayPal account in the name of her ex-partner. 

She set up a website using a fake name and set up a limited company in the name of another person.

To give the business a further air of legitimacy, she used a fake Care Quality Commission number on the certificates.

Kandola later pleaded guilty to five offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006.

Sentencing, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano 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 obtained – I have no doubt had Trading Standards not become involved you would have carried on offending and made a great deal more. You determinedly undermined the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus for your own financial gain.

"You were prepared to risk spreading this deadly disease 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.

Kandola was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years and was ordered to pay compensation to one of the victims.