Facebook holidays: Travel agent fears for reputation after Lyne Barlow's £2.6m scam

Lyne Barlow, formerly of Stanley in County Durham, scammed over 1,400 holidaymakers out of millions on Facebook. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees/ Durham Police

An independent travel agent in Ferryhill has said she is worried about her reputation after a County Durham woman scammed thousands of holiday makers on Facebook.

Melanie Robson works under the Hayes Travel group but said she comes across 80% of her customers on Facebook.

Ms Robson said: "A lot of people are assuming that because one person can scam them everyone's out to scam them.

"It is frustrating because it does impact the business. She's put a big dampener on it, she's put a lot of negative thoughts on it. She's lost a lot of trust in agents.

"It's been a bad time as it is with covid and then we just start picking up from covid and then you've got negative impact off unreliable agents."

  • Video report by Katie Cole.

Lyne Barlow, formerly of Stanley in County Durham, scammed about 1,400 holidaymakers in a £2.6m fraud.

Barlow even pretended to have terminal cancer, in some instances, to avoid the consequences for her "ponzi style" scam scheme which included funding existing holidays with new customers' money.

On Friday 3 February Barlow was jailed for nine years. In newly released police interviews she told Durham Police she doesn't sleep due to the guilt of what she has done.

She said: "This is what I mean about what I have done to all these people. It's horrendous. I literally do not sleep. I have to suffer for what I've done to people. I still intended to pay everybody back."

Tania Young was scammed out of £1,100 by Lyne Barlow and still hasn't received any of it back. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

Tania Young lost £1,100 to Barlow and still has not got her money back. She said it has put her off using independent travel agents in the future.

Ms Young said: "It's totally put me off, I mean there are genuine people out there but I think what she's done, she's sort of spoilt it for people."

Other victims who were conned out of money by Barlow said: "I would never trust independent travel agents with my business again."

Another said: "I have no confidence to book further holidays in the future. I feel embarrassed and ashamed that I was taken in."

The judge said the amount stolen over seven years was £2.6m, causing a loss of over £1.2m.

Jailing the 39-year-old on Friday, 3 February, Judge Jo Kidd told Barlow she 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.

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