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TFL - Freedom pass misuse 60 times - aggravating case

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I was caught using my Dad's Freedom Pass end of November and it almost looks certain that TfL will prosecute me for doing so

as they can probably build a strong case against me.

Of course, I regret my actions and am hoping to find some assistance here to help minimise repercussions.

 

Please have patience with me and read my story.

I don't expect any sympathy as I know I am totally in the wrong,

but I don't need any nasty unkind comments.

So here is my story.

 

[ The facts of the incident ]

I beeped through the barriers and was called to the side by two undercover TfL officers, who requested that I show my ticket.

Knowingly, that I used a fraudulent card, I produced a standard oyster card that I've not used for months.

Of course they knew this wasn't the card I beeped in with.

 

 

He checked the oyster and told me there was still credit on it, but hasn't been used or topped up for months.

He asked me to produce the real card (Freedom Pass).

I tried looking confused, but the officer wasn't going to be entertained

and threatened that he would search me if I didn't cooperate.

 

I handed over my Dad's Freedom pass and began to feel like distress coming on as the only thought running through my head was.

.. 'the crap has finally hit the fan'.

 

 

He told me he stopped me because abusing Freedom Passes was a high-risk target.

He then goes on to take my details and ask a lot of questions and wrote it all down in his notebook.

 

 

Most importantly...

 

 

"Do you know that you've committed a serious offense?"

- "I'm not really sure, I thought I could use it."

 

"How did you obtain this card?"

- "My dad wasn't using it and I thought I would borrow it."

 

"How often have you used it?"

- "I just started using it this week."

 

"Today is Wed, so you've used it for a total of 3 days?"

- "Yes, I guess so."

 

"Are you sure? We can track the usage of the card and find out everything."

- "Erm... Yes."

 

"Where were you traveling from and where were you going?"

- "I'm going home from work."

 

After he finished asking me questions, he let me read through his notes to check if anything was different from what was said.

I said it was fine.

He then wanted me to sign and date it,

but before doing so he said...

 

"After I let you go, I want you to know that I am only giving you a caution.

After you sign this, I will file a report and you will receive a letter about the event that has occurred.

You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence.

Anything you do say may be given in evidence, etc...

Do you understand what I have just said to you?"

 

Trying to get a moment to think about the situation,

I asked him to repeat as I was under the feeling of duress I suppose.

I answered "YES" and signed his notepad.

He told me to exit the gates by one of the staff

and I re-enter with the other oyster card as there was sufficient credit.

 

[ Unsaid truths ]

Obviously, I didn't have a clear head, being under pressure and scared... so I wasn't entirely truthful.

When he asked how often I had used the card, I was thinking to lie in the hope that it wouldn't turn out more serious than I thought it surely would.

 

 

I had thought that I hadn't been stopped before as I normally come and go at peak times when it's very busy (Piccadilly circus),

so it would be difficult to go through all the CCTV and check who used the card.

 

 

I stupidly thought it plausible that my Dad could have been using it up till the time I "said" I had started using it.

In actual fact, I had been using it for 3 months(!) - yes, shame on me!

There will obviously be a pattern for the last 3 months traveling between home and work.

 

In a panic,

I started reading up on cases on various forums (including CAG).

I read somewhere that when an officer conducts an interview for facts,

the statement of Right to Silence must be cited before the interview starts.

 

* If the officer only did this at the end, like I mentioned... what bearing does that have on my case?

 

[ Received a letter from TfL asking me to comment on the event ]

So I received the standard letter and having read a few cases,

it was advised to just grovel and beg for mercy...

 

 

so I replied as follows:

 

[[

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

I would like to start by saying that I deeply regret my actions, which were completely out of character and as a result of stupidity.

I had actually lost my oyster card that I normally use over the weekend.

 

In the rush of leaving for work in the morning and without clearing thinking of the consequences,

I foolishly picked up my father’s Freedom Pass in addition to a spare one I found lying around.

I simply thought to use the Freedom pass temporarily until I’d gotten paid so I could buy a new monthly travelcard.

I was not aware that it is a criminal offence to use someone else’s Freedom pass.

 

I know now, there is no excuse or valid reason for using someone else’s pass and am deeply sorry for not travelling on public transport without a valid ticket.

The whole situation has left me quite distraught and I would appreciate the opportunity to settle the matter without court proceedings

to avoid even further stress, wasting everyone’s time and resources, and incurring further costs.

 

I completely accept that I am in the wrong. This is my first offence and will certainly be the last! It is not a mistake I will ever be repeating. I humbly ask that you give me the opportunity to compensate TFL for reasonable costs/fine/fare in order to conclude the matter promptly.

 

I am currently engaged to my fiance overseas, and would like to invite her over to get married on a visitor visa.

I fear that any legal prosecution would greatly reduce our chances of getting accepted for the visa.

]]

 

[ Reply from TfL ]

TRAVEL IRREGULARITY

 

Thank you for responding to our enquiry letter, your comments will be taken into consideration when reviewing this case.

 

Please note it is the responsibility of a passenger to ensure they have a valid ticket...

 

After examining the journey history obtained from the freedom pass, it is apparent that this was not a 'one off' incident.

It is suspected that you have made more than 80 journeys,

avoiding fares of over £400, this we see as an aggravating feature in your case.

 

I must point out that legal proceedings may still be taken against you.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you further.

[ End of letter ]

 

I've almost lost all hope of being able to settle out of court.

To only thing I can think of is to try to appeal to the humanity of the investigating officer with my mitigating circumstances.

I know I'm not angel, but I like to think I'm a fairly decent human being.

I pay my taxes, had my fair share of hardships and could really do without this hanging over my head.

To try and put across my frame of mind at the time,

 

 

here is my personal story...

 

[ Circumstances ]

I quit my job as an IT professional about 2 years ago.

Went to pursue a relationship and take a break from work, and do some traveling.

 

 

Relationship didn't work out and it's 6 months since I've been working.

Feeling really down, and a million miles from home in the country I was born, I visited distant relatives for a little support.

I met someone through introduction and we hit it off so I was able to get over my last failed relationship.

We are now engaged and are planning a future together. I've been living off my savings for almost 2 years.

 

I was practically living, counting the pennies for the 6 months I had been back in UK and looking for work.

It is quite difficult getting back into things after such a long break.

I chose not to go on Job Seeker allowance which is a particular drain on taxes.

I grit my teeth hoping that I'd find a job any day.

 

So up til this incident, I've been working in a new job for 3 months.

Slowly trying to save money to be able to bring my other half here so we can be married and start a life together.

Right about the time I just started my job, my Dad offers to let me use his freedom pass!!!

Oh how I wish right now he didn't tempt me... I had always paid my travel costs as any good citizen would.

 

He argued that it would help save costs and aid in my efforts to bring my other half over (requiring financial support).

My Dad has no clue of legal stuff so didn't know the complications in their entirety when giving me his freedom pass.

I knew it wasn't right to use it, but thought to myself - "How bad could it be?

A slap on the wrist, a fine, and repay the cost of travels that I evaded.

 

 

" I had no clue whatsoever, that it could result in a criminal offense and would certainly refused his offer had I known.

 

I've not seen my other half for almost a year and it's quite difficult on us both.

This is really the last thing I need in the world and certainly won't reflect well,

when applying for a VISA for other half to come here as I would have to sponsor and be financially accountable for.

I am trying desperately to build a good supporting case for VISA approval.

 

[ and closing... ]

Thank you for reading my story and I hope some of you may be able to offer some guidance on what to do next.

I am dreading the day I get a court summons...:-(

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"Do you know that you've committed a serious offense?"

- "I'm not really sure, I thought I could use it."

 

Just wanted to say, this isn't a serious offence at all, no one lost any money. They just want the enjoyment of seeing you squirm and making some extra for their Christmas bonus.

 

Now I'll let the others give you help, if you're lucky you might get the real expert Old CodJA to give you some real advice. Good luck.

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Hello there.

 

In my opinion, the negotiations aren't over, but you may need to try hard to get TfL to reconsider. You can still ring the person who wrote to you and you can even go to the court on the day of the case and speak to the TfL prosecutor.

 

Hopefully some public transport professionals will be able to get here and advise you.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Did you make around 80 fraudulent journeys? If so, you need to admit this, and throw yourself at their mercy.

 

This is extremely serious, even if it was just 1 journey.

 

Taxpayers fund these passes so elderly and vulnerable members of our society do not lose the ability to get around. You haven't stolen from TfL, you have stolen from the tax payer, which is why this abuse is taken so seriously.

 

You have no mitigating circumstances as to why you shouldn't be prosecuted. In any event, it appears you lied to the Inspectors about how many times you had travelled fraudulently - which points to further evidence of dishonesty, which makes it even harder to settle this without a trip to court.

 

I would suggest you immediately contact TfL outlining exactly what you have done, the extent of the abuse in terms of time and journeys made, explain how it will affect visa applications etc, and offer to pay whatever the damage is, (which will be the total cost of fares evaded), so around £400+, plus their administrative costs, around £150, plus an amount which constitutes a "settlement", probably around another £150. Work out a total amount and offer to pay it immediately.

 

Be warned though, it is nigh on impossible to settle out of court for Freedom Pass abuse.

 

Some tips:

 

1) Don't advise them that you had permission from your father to use his pass. He would potentially be liable to prosecution, as this is prohibited. Try to avoid this completely.

2) As for everything else, honesty is key. You need to give a clear, honest and accurate account of what you have done. They don't want to know why, so leave out circumstances/emotion.

3) You don't sound very repentant, you sound sorry you got caught, and scared of the consequences. Some of what you wrote above implies that you are looking for "loopholes" or "failings" to take advantage off. Even if you don't intend to come across like that, a Prosecutor could read that very differently. Showing extreme, genuine remorse is part of facing your criminal behaviour, TfL will be looking to see that you have turned a corner, and are remorseful.

4) If you can't settle out of court, entering a "guilty" plea as soon as possible is best. You should always try to attend court, even if pleading guilty, to apologies personally to the court and TfL. This will enable you to receive a lesser sentence, which will be a medium range fine, around £250-£500, plus compensation, plus costs.

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FYI, just as further info, TfL will bring a court case under the following legislation:

 

Section 5(3)(a) Regulation of Railways Act 1889

 

(3)If any person—

 

(a)Travels or attempts to travel on a railway without having previously paid his fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof;

 

...he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding... £1000

 

Imprisonment is only possible if you have multiple convictions for fare evasion.

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bit like the other thread you posted on really.

 

this gives you hope mind..

 

I must point out that legal proceedings may still be taken against you.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you further.

 

you need to seriously get begging and stop lying.

 

offer to pay the £400 and and reasonable admin fees etc etc.

 

keep the letter short

DO NOT, put up any of the excuses your first post mentions

 

don't even think the visa should be mentioned

this is about YOU and your actions and subsequent lies...

rhose lies, might well prevent out of court settlement..

 

dx


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I'm surprised you felt confident to say "this was my first offence" when they can see a pattern of 80 similar trips.

Would it be more accurate to say "this was the first time I got caught"?

Trying to claim this was a first offence,when it clearly wasn't might lessen your (already slim?) chance of avoiding prosecution, as will the fact you initially lied (offering the unscanned PAYG Oyster) in an unsuccessful attempt to deceive.

 

Expect prosecution, S(5) RRA 1889, as others have noted.

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"How did you obtain this card?"

- "My dad wasn't using it and I thought I would borrow it."

 

here is my personal story...

 

[ Circumstances ]

So up til this incident, I've been working in a new job for 3 months.

Slowly trying to save money to be able to bring my other half here so we can be married and start a life together.

Right about the time I just started my job, my Dad offers to let me use his freedom pass!!!

Oh how I wish right now he didn't tempt me... I had always paid my travel costs as any good citizen would.

 

He argued that it would help save costs and aid in my efforts to bring my other half over (requiring financial support).

My Dad has no clue of legal stuff so didn't know the complications in their entirety when giving me his freedom pass.

[ and closing... ]

 

 

Hi,

 

I personally can't give a big advice, as I was caught last month...and I don't know yet what will happen for my case.

However I strongly advise you NOT to mention that your father allowed you to use it !!!

You could be punished both of you by LAW.

No just his freedom Pass withdrawn from you.

 

You state:"my Dad offers to let me use his freedom pass!!! "

No need to confess that at all.

 

Try not to worry a lot, as I know it is very scared situation to get a criminal record.

Try to calm down so that you can confess approximately how many times you used the pass.

They can track the usage via CCTV if TFL want...

when you was caught: if it was the same time/same location you were leaving/returning home for multiple times...then better to confess approximately because most probably they will suspect it was you...and they are right.

Don't keep lying...it is not in your favour I think.

 

This is what I have been advised so far from CAG forum.

Thanks to them I was convinced as you know we don't like to give evidence to TFL against us.

 

Logically speaking, it is up to them to settle out of court...However we have to pay all the previous avoided costs.

 

----------------------

 

For our point of view: we don't like to admit the multiple time Pass use, because we don't like to make our case more serious to avoid the criminal record.

 

However,

For TFL point of view: If we don't admit the multiple time Pass use, we are trying to avoid paying the previous costs.

for this reason a one-off offence, have to be proved to TFL...Can you prove to TFL that it was a very honest genuine first mistake?

if you can't (I can't prove it neither:) )...then for them it was you 90%

 

So, at this stage I personally think:

try to convince TFL not to proceed to court,

+ admit that it was not a one-off and apology

 

Hope that goes well for both of us.

Edited by Liliya

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It is suspected that you have made more than 80 journeys,

 

So they have no proof and want you convict yourself.

 

It's about time this silly money making racket was de-criminalised.

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So they have no proof and want you convict yourself.

 

It's about time this silly money making racket was de-criminalised.

 

They'll likely only prosecute for the one offence where the OP was caught bang to rights.

They'll likely use the fact they suspect the OP made a number of journeys (on a ticket they had no right to use, provided for a disadvantaged group, funded by the taxpayer!) a a reason not to settle out of court.

 

Money making racket? This wasn't an accidental "lost my ticket" or "oops, I missed my stop, and travelled to far". This was deliberate misuse of a Freedom Pass : how are you suggesting such abuse should be prevented?

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A certain moderator on here seems to condone criminal, fraudulent behaviour which costs honest taxpayers and customers millions of pounds in lost or misappropriated revenue every year. Sadly, this particular moderator will not change their tune, and is dangerously implying that these offence(s) are minor to those who seek advice.

 

80 DELIBERATE journeys, fraudulently using a pass, funded by the taxpayer, designed to allow elderly and disabled citizens to have independence and mobility is on the severe end of the scale, made worse by DELIBERATE attempts to conceal the extent of the abuse until TfL investigate further. The offender then DELIBERATELY appears on this forum seemingly searching for "loopholes" in regards to the interview, and looking for a way to avoid a criminal record for DELIBERATE and blatant fare evasion.

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They'll likely only prosecute for the one offence where the OP was caught bang to rights.

They'll likely use the fact they suspect the OP made a number of journeys (on a ticket they had no right to use, provided for a disadvantaged group, funded by the taxpayer!) a a reason not to settle out of court.

 

Money making racket? This wasn't an accidental "lost my ticket" or "oops, I missed my stop, and travelled to far". This was deliberate misuse of a Freedom Pass : how are you suggesting such abuse should be prevented?

 

A certain moderator on here seems to condone criminal, fraudulent behaviour which costs honest taxpayers and customers millions of pounds in lost or misappropriated revenue every year. Sadly, this particular moderator will not change their tune, and is dangerously implying that these offence(s) are minor to those who seek advice.

 

80 DELIBERATE journeys, fraudulently using a pass, funded by the taxpayer, designed to allow elderly and disabled citizens to have independence and mobility is on the severe end of the scale, made worse by DELIBERATE attempts to conceal the extent of the abuse until TfL investigate further. The offender then DELIBERATELY appears on this forum seemingly searching for "loopholes" in regards to the interview, and looking for a way to avoid a criminal record for DELIBERATE and blatant fare evasion.

 

 

I certainly do not condone criminal activity which is why I say it should not be a criminal offence. Is it not fraudulent to park in a council carpark and not pay, but that is not a court wasting criminal offence.

 

As for the moneymaking, that is all on the transport companies. When the OP is eventually dealt with, will the train company give the money they make to the local council in compensation, not they will not, they will put it in their own bank.

 

This is a cash cow for the train companies. No one has actually lost any money, but the train company will gain.

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What would you rather then? That the people on here (who usually admit to deliberately defrauding the transport providers in someway), pay deterrent administrative costs and avoid a court appearance and criminal record, or would you rather the rail/tram operators decided to just prosecute everyone instead, and not give them a chance to avoid a criminal record by paying compensation for their fraudulent actions?

 

The rail operators aren't making massive profits from these out of court settlements, at least, certainly not the one's I have been involved with. The most efficient TOCs will just about break even, I don't quite think you understand the overheads and staffing costs a revenue protection and prosecution team incurs, not to mention the time taken up.

 

Some TOCs, like Merseyrail, reinvest all of their Penalty Fare and court awarded money back into safety/crime prevention initiatives anyway.

 

In this particular case, as TfL is a "not for profit" government company, any money they gain will go into TfL accounts, so the taxpayer benefits.

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how did this pan out at the end of the day?

 

 

dx


PLEASE DONT HIT QUOTE IF THE LAST POST IS THE ONE YOU ARE REPLYING TOO.

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I know this has been done to death, but I've only just seen this so will comment as I feel quite strongly about certain parts of it.

 

I certainly do not condone criminal activity which is why I say it should not be a criminal offence. Is it not fraudulent to park in a council carpark and not pay, but that is not a court wasting criminal offence.

 

It is however a criminal offence to use a disabled/blue badge that doesn't belong to you.

Surely this is more on a par with freedom pass miss-use?

 

 

Freedom passes are issued to pensioners and/or those with a disability.

 

 

Same as blue badges are.

I honestly cannot believe you think this is some sort of money making racket.

 

 

Maybe Freedom Passes and the like should be taken away.....

Would you be happy then?

 

 

Miss-use costs the tax payer money and is not about private companies making money.

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