Cancer-faking travel agent jailed for conning clients out of £2,600,000

A travel agent who claimed she had cancer while defrauding friends, relatives and more than 1,400 customers in a £2.6 million con has been jailed for nine years.

The judge said Lyne Barlow, 39, had ‘an extraordinary talent for dishonesty’ after hearing that she had stolen more than £500,000 from her own mother following the death of her father in 2015.

She sold luxury holidays at knock-down prices, offering deals such as a five star all-inclusive week in Dubai for just £500, but was funding the sales in a ponzi-style scheme by bringing in new customers to fund existing ones.

Durham Police said she tricked victims, including her close relatives, into believing she had cancer as a means to deflect complaints when people contacted her about missing booking references.

Barlow admitted theft of £500,000 from one person, 10 counts of fraud and a money laundering charge totalling £1,688,220.

A local travel industry source said: ‘She did much untold damage to local travel agents who simply could not compete at the unrealistic prices.

‘We tried to tell numerous people it wasn’t right but as some people were travelling and getting the holidays at these prices – she was clearly funding the shortfall with other people’s money – they wouldn’t believe it.

‘We even contacted her ourselves and tried to call her out but she wasn’t fazed in the least and actually tried to recruit us to work for her.

‘She lied about having the relevant licences to trade.

‘We contacted police but were informed that as people were getting their holidays, at this point there was nothing they could do.

‘People were literally throwing money at her.’

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