Fare dodger faked first-class rail tickets at home

Must pay back more than £17,000

Mark Mason's forged tickets.

A fare dodger who spent two years travelling round the country on faked first-class train tickets has been told to pay back more than £17,000 or face a year in jail.

Mark Mason, aged 44, of Hatfield, Doncaster, was convicted of faking 85 rail tickets and parking tickets at Sheffield Crown Court.

He'd been using his home computer and picture editing software to print out the fake tickets (pictured above) on photographic paper, cutting them to size with craft knives and scissors.

Suspicions aroused

The British Transport Police (BTP) started investigating Mason in the autumn of 2013, when East Coast Trains station staff became suspicious of his black Vauxhall Meriva car, frequently left in the Executive Car Park at Doncaster station.

They spotted various discrepancies, including an expired ticket and tickets with the wrong colours, with no date and time printed, with incorrect emblems or with the wrong value paid.

The next time the car appeared, Mason was arrested on suspicion of fraud offences and another ten forged tickets were found in his car.

A search of his home revealed more forged travel and parking tickets, along with genuine tickets, glossy photographic paper, computers and printers, craft knives, scissors and a cutting board.

"This sentence sends a clear message to anyone thinking of trying to evade payment of train fares and/or parking that it really isn't worth it," says BTP financial investigator detective constable David Williams.

"Mason must now pay back all the money he thought he had saved with his fraudulent behaviour or face serving a prison sentence."

Previous cases

British Transport police come down hard on fare dodgers, who can pay dearly for their free tickets in the end. Last year, hedge fund manager Jonathan Burrows was not only ordered to pay back the £42,550 in fares that he was believed to have dodged, but was also banned from working in the financial services industry.

However, there have been complaints that train companies are being too harsh in their treatment of passengers who have simply made an innocent mistake.

And last month, the government announced plans to overhaul the rail penalty fare appeals procedure to make it fairer and more open. The Office of Rail Regulation is now overseeing the development of a code of practice on rail ticket selling, to try and make sure passengers at least know where they stand.

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