Detectives reveal reason bogus agent Lyne Barlow’s scam wasn’t stopped sooner

By Lisa James
28/07/2023
Home » Detectives reveal reason bogus agent Lyne Barlow’s scam wasn’t stopped sooner

A BBC documentary has revealed COVID was the reason bogus agent Lyne Barlow was able to scam so many victims – because detectives didn’t want to take her in for questioning at the start of the pandemic.

The documentary says police first visited her home at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and believed her when she told them she was suffering from cancer. They said they believed she was vulnerable and they didn’t want to risk her catching COVID.

Barlow was jailed in February for nine years on theft and fraud charges of around £2.6 million, as well as money laundering, in what is Durham’s biggest fraud investigation to date,

The documentary, which includes interviews with police, one-time friends of Barlow, and some of the holidaymakers she conned, reveals there were 450 separate frauds, 1,400 victims and 21,500 transactions to analyse over 16 different bank accounts.

Retired Detective Ali Blackett, who spent years investigating the case, told the programme she had ‘never met anyone like Lyne Barlow’.

Former friends talked about her lavish parties, how she donated expensive prizes to charity events and loved luxury holidays, designer clothes and handbags.

Despite the decision not to take Barlow in for questioning at the beginning of the pandemic, Det Blackett said Barlow was ‘never going to get off the hook’. However, the BBC documentary said: “The decision not to arrest Lyne [at that time] meant she was free to continue running her dodgy travel business and the customers kept flooding in.”

Barlow was arrested in September 2020, after which her business, Lyne Barlow Travel, was shut down.

The documentary also reveals that Barlow admitted to telling people she’d twice had cancer, and that at one point she was deemed to be a flight risk when police heard she was planning to leave the country to escape justice.

Barlow told police it made her ‘skin crawl’ thinking about what she had done and admitted: “I deserve to be punished.”

The documentary, called The Sunshine Scammer, is part of The Big Cases series on BBC iPlayer.

See also: How Lyne Barlow pulled off one of the biggest frauds police have ever seen

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