Friend of fraudster travel agent Lyne Barlow who faked cancer speaks out over 'lies and heartache'

Lyne Barlow scammed 1,400 people out of holidays - many of whom were friends. Credit: Emma Jackson

The victims of a fraudster travel agent who scammed hundreds of people out of holidays worth thousands of pounds have spoken out over her lies, lavish parties and the heartache caused to friends who thought she had terminal cancer.

Lyne Barlow scammed 1,400 people - including many who had counted her as a friend - in a "Ponzi" style scheme through her company Lyne Barlow Independent Travel.

She was jailed for nine years at a hearing at Durham Crown Court on Friday 3 February.

Emma Jackson, from Stanley, in County Durham, had been introduced to Barlow through a mutual friend.

They had gone on nights out together, abroad on hen parties and she had been invited to lavish parties Barlow had hosted.

Lyne Barlow has now been jailed for nine years for the fraud. Credit: Emma Jackson

Ms Jackson said Barlow deserves jail for the heartache and pain she has caused to so many.

She booked with Barlow for her husband to go on a cycling trip to Spain in 2020, transferring almost £400. Also on the trip was Barlow's husband, who police say was not involved in the scam.

The holiday was cancelled because of the pandemic but it did not matter because by that time they had learnt there was no holiday and word had spread that Lyne Barlow Independent Travel was a scam.

Ms Jackson struggled to believe it had been a scam - and that Barlow had been lying about having cancer to keep customers off her back.

She said: "I didn't really want to believe it because we were friends with them. I mean, my husband was going to be with her husband. It wasn't like a random offer I'd seen on social media. We were friends and obviously you trust your friends, don't you?"

Lyne Barlow lied to friends she had cancer, wearing a head scarf so they would believe she was undergoing treatment. Credit: Durham Constabulary

She knows many others who had booked through Barlow.

She said: "Some of my friends had gone on holiday and got there and there has been nothing booked. What do you do when you're on holiday with your children and it just doesn't happen?

"I feel angry towards her. The heartache she has caused and the lies about cancer and being poorly, it's just horrendous. My circle of friends have lost someone to cancer young and it's heartbreaking she would lie about it."

Lyne Barlow and Emma Jackson were friends before the scam came to light. Credit: Emma Jackson

Police say Barlow used the money she was making from her holiday scam to go on foreign holidays, buy designer clothes and host lavish parties.

Ms Jackson said: "She was very generous. She was very kind. If we got a taxi together and I got out first, she would say, 'no, no, I will pay.'"

Like others who I have spoken to who were scammed by Barlow, she feels like a fool.

She said: "It's been absolutely heartbreaking. The lies that she spread and we believed them. I do hope she goes down and I feel really sorry for her children. They've been dragged through it and they're innocent."

Others who were scammed by Barlow had been recommended by friends and family and were lured in by her cheap deals. While some holidays did go ahead, many had never even be booked.

Tania Young, also from Stanley, paid £1,100 to go on a girls holiday to Turkey.

"We transferred all of it via bank transfer," she said. "I didn't get any tickets. I did mention tickets and she said she would drop them down at my house. I didn't think anything of it because I know you don't always get your tickets until a few weeks before you go.

"I was absolutely gutted. The first I head about it was not long before I was due to go. My friend contacted me on Facebook and said 'that woman you've booked a holiday off is a scammer.'"

She added: "I rang the airline. I rang the hotel. Nothing. No bookings under my name. I just couldn't believe it. I felt I let myself down by allowing myself to be scammed."

Others have also shared their disgust at Barlow's scam.

One man, who spent £1,400 on a honeymoon, said: "This experience has without doubt soured our whole wedding and the first holiday we would have taken together. We will now have this as our lasting memory and not the wonderful honeymoon we should have spent together."

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