Advice about ticket fraud

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Haywain

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I know it seems hard to believe but I have screwed my finances so much that I can't get any form of credit and when I have run out of money in my account that is it - I have no money at all until I next get paid.
I can show my bank statement that would prove I had 0 this week and tomorrow will have money from 2 pay checks.
My view is that you should apologise for your error and make it clear that it won't be repeated, and offer no more explanation than it being a foolish attempt to save money. I think going into more detail allows alternative views to be taken and further difficult questions to be asked (like why didn't you buy daily tickets for those couple of days, or why didn't you use the bus?).
 
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najaB

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My view is that you should apologise for your error and make it clear that it won't be repeated, and offer no more explanation than it being a foolish attempt to save money. I think going into more detail allows alternative views to be taken and further difficult questions to be asked (like why didn't you buy daily tickets for those couple of days, or why didn't you use the bus?).
I agree with this. Don't hide anything, but by the same token don't provide more information than you need to.

Generally we wouldn't recommend contacting the prosecutions department this soon, since it takes them some time to process the case and it may not yet be in anyone's in tray. However, your being away from home for a period does complicate things a little.

My advice: if you've not heard from them by a day or two before you are due to leave, contact them and explain that you're going to be unable to check your mail for x number of days. That way if something does arrive while you're away you have it on record that your reply may be delayed.
 

Crisp1604

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Ok thanks - any idea how long it will be from when they send the letter to the court date? Is it likely to be within a month, say, from when they write to me or will it be quite a while?
Also I will be able to pay them tomorrow - should I contact them and offer to pay?
 

najaB

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Ok thanks - any idea how long it will be from when they send the letter to the court date? Is it likely to be within a month, say, from when they write to me or will it be quite a while?
If your case proceeds as is typical, the first letter will arrive anything from two to six weeks from now. In that letter they will ask for any mitigating factors why they shouldn't proceed with a prosecution. It will then take another two to six weeks for them to decide to proceed with applying for a summons. That would likely add at least a week to the process to get a court date, which could be anything up to a couple of months hence.

TL;DR: It could be several months until a court date.
Also I will be able to pay them tomorrow - should I contact them and offer to pay?
Only in general terms, for example by ending your letter* with something like "In closing, I would like to apologise again for this error in judgement and to recompense you for the costs you have incurred as well as the unpaid fare."

*Where possible it's best to write rather than call since this leaves a paper trail.
 

some bloke

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Can I ask what you told the inspector about your personal circumstances/mitigation, what she seemed to write down and anything more that she said in relation to putting in a good word?

Maybe the trip to the States wouldn't necessarily be seen as indicating that you had the money for the fare. Going to help with the birth of your child isn't the same as a luxury holiday. There are some factors about your situation they might look kindly on, as you've given up the addiction, got a job and helping with your child - they might see you as moving towards responsibility (as well as not wanting to be too harsh).
 

Crisp1604

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Ok thanks - at least I should be able to go to the states for my son's birth without too much concern about this, even if I can't visit beyond that.
I have really ****ed myself. I understand the line has to be drawn somewhere but it seems harsh to break a family up because someone couldn't afford their full train fare. Especially if they then paid it 3 days later. I mean, that is the worst case scenario but it is very much on the table so I have to prepare for the worst. I guess I could have walked to work but it would have taken about 4 hours each way - I was walking from my day job to my evening job a few weeks back when I couldn't afford the tube tickets so I would walk an hour and a half across London to get to my second job every day. Doing that between Bromley and central London just isn't realistic.
It's really frustrating when I'm trying to get my **** together and make a slip up which amounts to avoiding £15 of train fares that I am able to pay back within a few days, and the consequences are that I might not be able to go and see my fiancé and child while they are in the US. And who knows what happens beyond that, if they are unable to move back here any time soon. I didn't mean any harm by it - I was just trying to get to work. Can I post my letter here for any suggestions on if it is appropriate?
 

Crisp1604

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Can I ask what you told the inspector about your personal circumstances/mitigation, what she seemed to write down and anything more that she said in relation to putting in a good word?

Maybe the trip to the States wouldn't necessarily be seen as indicating that you had the money for the fare. Going to help with the birth of your child isn't the same as a luxury holiday. There are some factors about your situation they might look kindly on, as you've given up the addiction, got a job and helping with your child - they might see you as moving towards responsibility (as well as not wanting to be too harsh).

I told her that I had no money as I've been struggling recently with substance abuse problems and she wrote in the report that I had 'fallen on hard times' - she asked if they would see other zone 1-2 tickets against my photocard number and I said no they will be for zones 1-4 whenever I have bought a weekly ticket recently. I just explained that I am struggling to make ends meet because of my personal difficulties and that's why I'm working 2 jobs and that I got this ticket because it was all I could afford until pay day this week.

Otherwise I answered yes when asked if I have intended to not pay - that was a mistake but it was true technically so I had to say it. There was no way I could pay so it would have been a lie to say I intended to pay. So she wrote that down along with a brief summary of our interaction - where I was stopped, that I said I understood I was being interviewed under caution and why I hadn't paid.

I also told her that I would be on file for an on the spot fine about a year ago which was an honest mistake when I got on without a ticket and we paid the £20 fine there and then.

And she said I seemed like a genuine guy and that she would put in a good word in her recommendations (I wasn't an 'arsehole' like some people they stop apparently) but it is obviously out of their hands once reported/submitted.
 

najaB

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I understand the line has to be drawn somewhere but it seems harsh to break a family up because someone couldn't afford their full train fare. Especially if they then paid it 3 days later. I mean, that is the worst case scenario but it is very much on the table so I have to prepare for the worst.
Yes, it is a worst case scenario but it's not a realistic outcome. Even if you do get a conviction (which is far from given) it would not prevent you travelling to the USA in the future. B1/B2 visas are pretty easy to get for people with convictions for non-violent offences. It just means that you'll need to fill in some additional paperwork and attend an in-person interview.
 

some bloke

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What the inspector wrote may have an effect - they are particularly interested in long-term offenders or people being shifty who they can't trust not to do it again, and attitude can count.

even if I can't visit beyond that.
I have really ****ed myself.

Not now, and it's not clear why it would be true later. If you look at threads on here you can see many people who are convinced they've ruined their careers or that their travel will be restricted, then realise the offence isn't seen as anywhere near as serious as they thought. And there may be a reasonable chance of a settlement anyway.

It may take more than one try to get a settlement. If they don't agree in writing, try again. Phoning or agreeing to an interview might help, but might result in saying the "wrong" thing or confusion about what was said if there isn't a recording.

If all else fails you can turn up at the court early, ask staff where the prosecutor is and try then.

If it comes to it at any point, you may think it's worth consulting a solicitor even if it means borrowing money. Some offer free initial consultations. On the off-chance that any of these apply to you, members of unions and people with particular bank accounts or insurance can also get free legal advice.

The way you're writing, it seems like the US issue is a reason to be lenient, if the (though bear in mind how you phrase the lack of money in that context).

[Edit: On the above two paragraphs, see najaB's advice above.]

If it would help talking to someone, these helplines may be useful:

https://www.nacro.org.uk/resettlement-advice-service/support-for-individuals/

https://hub.unlock.org.uk/contact/#contact
 
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Crisp1604

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Yes, it is a worst case scenario but it's not a realistic outcome. Even if you do get a conviction (which is far from given) it would not prevent you travelling to the USA in the future. B1/B2 visas are pretty easy to get for people with convictions for non-violent offences. It just means that you'll need to fill in some additional paperwork and attend an in-person interview.

Ok well that's reassuring to know, thanks for that.
 

some bloke

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This is from November.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said:
There are many reasons why a person may be ineligible to enter the United States. The legal descriptions are lengthy and complex therefore a list of the most common reasons is provided below. This information should not be interpreted to be a comprehensive list of reasons you may be denied entry into the United States. In general, you might be denied entry:

If you have a communicable disease,
Determined to be a drug abuser or addict,
If you have a criminal record of multiple convictions,
If you have a criminal record for crimes of moral turpitude,
Violated any law or regulation relating to a controlled substance including but not limited to trafficking in a controlled substance,
If you have trafficked in persons,
If you have been involved in money laundering,
If you have overstayed a previous period of admission to the United States

Please note that as stated above, a conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) may render an individual inadmissible to the United States.
https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1769/kw/conviction
 

Crisp1604

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Letter below - shall I leave out the grovelling at the end?

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing regarding an offence I committed on 21st August 2019 travelling on a Southeastern Trains service between Shortlands and Herne Hill, with the final destination of my journey being Farringdon.


I did not have a valid ticket for all of this journey, as I had purchased a 7-day season ticket covering only London travel zones 1 and 2. I would like to apologise and express sincere contrition for travelling without the correct ticket for this journey; I would have bought a correct travel card covering zones 1 to 4 as I had done in the weeks leading up to this offence, however on this occasion I was unable to afford to buy this ticket so I bought a zones 1-2 travelcard in the hope that I would not be checked during this time and with the 23rd August being my next pay day I would then be able to afford to buy the correct ticket from that date onwards.

This is the only time that I have committed this offence due to the difficult circumstances that I have temporarily found myself in. The weekly travel cards that I have purchased prior to this incident, against my photocard number MZA7399, are for zones 1 to 4 - if it is possible for you to check and verify this you will find that to be the case.

I had anticipated that I might get caught for this and thought that I would be issued with a fine in the event of that happening, which I was prepared to pay because I would be able to afford it within a week. While I accept my responsibility for this offence I did not do this just to save myself money for the sake of it but because I genuinely couldn’t afford the correct ticket at the time.

I know that what I did was wrong and I am sincerely sorry for my dishonesty on this occasion. I have experienced personal difficulties in my life over the past year which resulted in being out of work temporarily and facing financial problems. Because of this I regrettably could not afford the cost of a zones 1 to 4 travel card for the week leading up to my next pay day, and having to travel between Bromley where I currently stay with my parents and my work in Farringdon and a second job I do in a restaurant in Knightsbridge I was faced with a problem and made a bad decision in trying to get away with using an invalid ticket for parts of the commute between these places.

Looking back now I realise that I should have asked for help from family or friends to cover the additional costs of travel, and I truly regret my decision-making with regards to this.

Due to my current financial situation, I have taken a second job working as a Kitchen Porter to supplement income I make working for a business research company. However, I am still struggling to get by as I pay off debts and having only quite recently returned to full-time employment. For this reason I made the wrong decision of attempting to use an invalid ticket for parts of my journey on the train network this past week.

I would like to pay my correct fare for the journeys I have made during this time when I am able to on Friday 23rd August when I get paid, and once again offer my deepest regret and apologies for this offence. I am beginning to get back on my feet with regards to addressing the personal problems that have affected my life recently and am now working again full time. I was fully compliant with the revenue officers who recorded this incident and was entirely cooperative, and I explained this situation to them.

Further to this I have a partner who currently lives in the United States, who I met when she lived in London. We are expecting a baby in less than 2 months’ time. I am hoping to be able to visit her and my new son in the United States later this year and hope to be able to visit while they live there before returning to London, hopefully early next year. If this offence which I have committed results in a criminal prosecution then I may not be able to visit the United States and I am extremely concerned about the prospect of not being able to visit my partner and our child. I take full responsibility for what I have done and will have to face the consequences whatever they may be, but I would like to ask you to please consider my circumstances when you decide how to proceed with my case.

I am deeply sorry for what I have done and am pleading with you to refrain from pursuing a criminal prosecution against me. Please can you show clemency in this case and allow me to pay back what I owe in the fares and any costs you deem necessary, but please can you not pursue a criminal prosecution against me. I am so sorry that I did this and failed to consider how serious the implications were. I promise that I will never do this again. I am terrified about the possibility that I will be unable to visit my partner and child in the United States as a result of this.

If I could be permitted to come and talk to someone about this in person and explain the situation that would be greatly appreciated. Please allow me a second chance and an opportunity to redeem myself for this offence, without having to suffer the most extreme consequences.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and once again I offer my sincere apologies and deepest regret. I know what I did was wrong and I am desperate for the opportunity to make up for it without losing the ability to visit my girlfriend and child. If there is anything I can do that will help my case then please let me know what that is.
 

Haywain

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The letter is far, far too long. Keep it brief - acknowledge what you did, apologise, and offer to settle. Plus a brief bit about going away. 4 paragraphs on one page. Don’t send something that’s going to make them feel they haven’t got time to read it.
 

Crisp1604

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Ok thanks - this better?

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing regarding an offence I committed on 21st August 2019 travelling on a Southeastern Trains service between Shortlands and Herne Hill, with the final destination of my journey being Farringdon.


I did not have a valid ticket for all of this journey, as I had purchased a 7-day season ticket covering only London travel zones 1 and 2. I would like to apologise and express sincere contrition for travelling without the correct ticket for this journey; I would have bought a correct travel card covering zones 1 to 4 as I had done in the weeks leading up to this offence, however on this occasion I was unable to afford to buy this ticket so I bought a zones 1-2 travelcard in the hope that I would not be checked during this time and with the 23rd August being my next pay day I would then be able to afford to buy the correct ticket from that date onwards.

This is the only time that I have committed this offence due to the difficult circumstances that I have temporarily found myself in. The weekly travel cards that I have purchased prior to this incident, against my photocard number MZA7399, are for zones 1 to 4 - if it is possible for you to check and verify this you will find that to be the case.

I know that what I did was wrong and I am sincerely sorry for my dishonesty on this occasion. I have experienced personal difficulties in my life over the past year which resulted in being out of work temporarily and facing financial problems. I assure you that I will never commit this offence again.

I would like to pay my correct fare for the journeys I have made during this time when I am able to on Friday 23rd August when I get paid, and once again offer my deepest regret and apologies for this offence.

Further to this I have a partner who currently lives in the United States, who I met when she lived in London. We are expecting a baby in less than 2 months’ time. I am hoping to be able to visit her and my new son in the United States later this year and hope to be able to visit while they live there before returning to London, hopefully early next year. If this offence which I have committed results in a criminal prosecution then I may not be able to visit the United States and I am extremely concerned about the prospect of not being able to visit my partner and our child. I take full responsibility for what I have done and will have to face the consequences whatever they may be, but I would like to ask you to please consider my circumstances when you decide how to proceed.
 

Bungle158

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Without wishing to patronise, l am impressed that a recovering addict has the courage and honesty to face up to the circumstances under discussion. OK, you screwed up, we have all done that, one way or another. Let's hope you can deal with this by way of a settlement.


As an aside, l wish the railway industry would do more to inform users that fare avoidance can lead to criminal charges and a record.
 

najaB

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The letter is far, far too long. Keep it brief - acknowledge what you did, apologise, and offer to settle. Plus a brief bit about going away. 4 paragraphs on one page. Don’t send something that’s going to make them feel they haven’t got time to read it.
Seconded. You could leave out about 70% of it.
Suggestion said:
Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing regarding an offence I committed on 21st August 2019 travelling on a Southeastern Trains service between Shortlands and Herne Hill, with the final destination of my journey being Farringdon.

I admit that I did not have a valid ticket for all of this journey. Due to the difficult circumstances that I temporarily found myself in I was only able to afford a ticket covering London travel zones 1 and 2. The weekly travel cards that I have purchased prior to this incident, against my photocard number [redacted], are for zones 1 to 4 - if it is possible for you to check and verify this you will find that to be the case.

I know that what I did was wrong and I am sincerely sorry for my dishonesty on this occasion. I would like to pay my correct fare for the journeys and recompense you for any costs you have incurred when I am able to on Friday 23rd August when I get paid.

I am going to be away from home from [date] to [date] so would like to resolve this matter as expeditiously as possible.

Thank you,

Crisp1604
 

Crisp1604

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Thanks guys I appreciate your comments and help.
I will send that letter off and try to call them because I really need to get this settled as soon as possible.
 

Crisp1604

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Without wishing to patronise, l am impressed that a recovering addict has the courage and honesty to face up to the circumstances under discussion. OK, you screwed up, we have all done that, one way or another. Let's hope you can deal with this by way of a settlement.


As an aside, l wish the railway industry would do more to inform users that fare avoidance can lead to criminal charges and a record.

Thanks I hope they see it that way too.

And yes I have seen it mentioned that fare evasion brings the risk of prosecution but I assumed (foolishly) that it was very rare and only in the cases of serious, repeat offences. If I had any idea that this could happen I wouldn't have dreamed of taking the risk. I know I was in the wrong but it feels like such a disproportionate punishment for the crime.
I am in a pretty bad way because of this - it is a struggle to concentrate at work and sleeping was difficult last night. It will be a really grim couple of months ahead. I will try to do something nice on bank holiday Monday - maybe take a train out to the countryside lol!
 

Crisp1604

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Thanks - yes I keep thinking that surely that is the more likely outcome. I mean given the circumstances it would be really quite harsh of someone to say I should be taken to court over this, especially as I can pay it back as of tomorrow. I just don't see why it would make any sense to go to court over it - maybe to set an example and say that whatever the circumstances we will come down hard on non-payment, but it's not going to make the news is it?
The uncertainty is not pleasant, and there's still that possibility that the bureaucratic process is followed to the letter.
 

najaB

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I just don't see why it would make any sense to go to court over it - maybe to set an example and say that whatever the circumstances we will come down hard on non-payment, but it's not going to make the news is it?
While nothing can be guaranteed, one thing that hopefully will help settle your mind a bit: if they take the case to court, the majority of any fine imposed will go to the Government. If they settle out of court, they get to keep 100% of the settlement. So it's in their financial best interest to settle.

They will generally only prosecute when the offender doesn't show any remorse, either through trying to blame other people or not engaging in the process. You definitely don't appear to be falling foul of that.
 

WesternLancer

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Thanks- the problem is that I should be in the states when the letter arrives so I have to contact them first and explain that.
I reckon you need if at all possible a trusted person to look out for your post open it, scan it and send it to you in USA for any action you need to take (even if you have already by now written to the railway). I suspect a Royal Mail redelivery to USA is maybe unreliable in terms of you getting it quickly, but other option would be a re delivery by Royal Mail to another UK address (eg trusted friend / relative) - this is reliable in my experience and not THAT expensive - or not compared with consequences of missing key letters about this.

See Royal Mail website to set this up.
 

tom73

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In respect of the US visa issue, this might be interesting:
QUOTE: In cases where an arrest resulted in a conviction, you may be permanently ineligible to receive a visa and will require a waiver ineligibility to travel to the United States. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to United States visa law. Therefore, even if your arrest or conviction is considered spent, you are still require to declare it and furnish an ACRO Police Certificate when applying for a visa. UNQUOTE
https://uk.usembassy.gov/visas/ineligibilities-and-waivers-2/arrest-caution-conviction/
The waiver ineligibility facility is discretionary and can take 6-8 months from the date of your visa interview.
Assuming the waiver ineligibility is successful, a conviction essentially delays your travel plans for a year including the need to apply for a visa in the first place as opposed to simply jumping on a flight and filling out the visa waiver form on board.
 

Crisp1604

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I reckon you need if at all possible a trusted person to look out for your post open it, scan it and send it to you in USA for any action you need to take (even if you have already by now written to the railway). I suspect a Royal Mail redelivery to USA is maybe unreliable in terms of you getting it quickly, but other option would be a re delivery by Royal Mail to another UK address (eg trusted friend / relative) - this is reliable in my experience and not THAT expensive - or not compared with consequences of missing key letters about this.

See Royal Mail website to set this up.

Thanks that is a really helpful suggestion - I will look in to that.
 
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