Travel agent who pretended to have cancer to con 1,400 customer jailed
A travel agent faked while defrauding more than 1,400 customers has been jailed at Durham Crown Court for nine years.
Lyne Barlow, 39, was ‘riding the monster of deceit’ as she used her fake illness to deflect the avalanche of complaints from devastated families whose holidays failed to materialise.
She was so determined to continue her charade that she even convinced her husband, Paul, and son and daughter she was battling cancer.
Family members took her to hospital appointments, unaware that she was simply waiting inside before re-emerging claiming to have seen her consultant.
To make her story more convincing, she cut off strands of her hair and scattered them across her pillow to make it look as though she was losing it to chemotherapy.
Lyne Barlow, 39, claimed to her customers that she was covered by insurance and was a member of the trusted travel brand Association of British Travel Agents
Barlow also claimed to be suffering from a terminal illness while she was selling the holidays, Durham Crown Court heard in October last year
When Barlow was arrested in 2020 she hobbled into the police station with her head swathed in a scarfe and walking with a stick.
Custody photographs show a vast difference when she was re-arrested a year later and was forced to admit her ‘stage 3/4’ cancer had been a fabrication.
Barlow stooped so low as to defraud her own mother, Susan Coleman, 64, out of £500,000 – part of which came from an insurance payout following the untimely death of her father, Barry.
The rest was NHS ward sister Mrs Coleman’s retirement payout and savings, which Barlow told her she’d invested in a business venture which would make her mother rich.
Barlow took over her grieving mother’s financial affairs as she struggled to come to terms with losing her husband in 2015.
As she systematically emptied her mother’s accounts she intercepted her post to stop her getting bank statements.