Stanley travel agent told she faces jail after scamming hundreds of customers who booked holidays

Travel agent Lyne Barlow (left) leaving Durham Crown Court, after she admitted conning customers, with the offences said to total £2.6m. Credit: PA

A County Durham travel agent has been told she faces a “long prison sentence” after admitting a scam involving hundreds of customers who thought they had bought holidays from her.

Lyne Barlow, 39, previously of Stanley, County Durham, was investigated by police after her victims came forward in 2020 to say they had not received the holidays they had paid for.

Appearing at Durham Crown Court, she admitted stealing £500,000 from one person, 10 counts of fraud and a money laundering charge totalling £1,688,220.

One of the charges said she made false representations by saying she had booked family holidays for paying customers and falsely claimed to be Atol and ABTA registered.

The prosecution claimed Barlow’s offending topped a total of £2.6 million, though the defence will challenge that figure, the court was told.

Tony Davis, defending, said some customers received their holidays and suffered no loss.

He asked the court to allow a psychiatric report to be prepared and referred to the fact Barlow told some people she has a terminal illness.

Judge James Adkin granted her bail but said she will be jailed when he passes sentence on December 12.

He said: “It’s prison – and a long prison sentence.”

The court was told that some of Barlow’s victims may wish to read statements during the sentencing hearing, for which half a day was allocated.

Durham Police said previously Barlow’s travel business was no longer operational, and its social media page was taken down shortly after her arrest in September 2020.

The force said “several hundred” people came forward to make allegations against her.

Detective Sergeant Alan Meehan, of Durham Constabulary’s economic fraud unit, said: “Fraud is an horrendous crime, with such far-reaching consequences for its victims.

“So many people have been affected by her actions, lives have been changed forever and some are still feeling the effects today.

“This is one of the biggest fraud cases Durham Constabulary has ever dealt with and I would like to thank everyone who came forward for their patience and understanding while we carried out a thorough investigation.”

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