Dubbed 'the Sunshine Scammer' by the BBC, British fraudster Lyne Barlow fleeced more than $2 million (£1.6m) from family, friends and 1,400 strangers between 2019 and 2020. Barlow, who lived in County Durham, UK, started by stealing around $600,000 (£500k) from her own mother, who'd inherited the money following the death of Barlow's father. According to a BBC documentary, Barlow took control of the funds, telling the bank her mother was too bereaved to manage the money herself.
Friends quickly noticed that Barlow was living a life of luxury, jetting off on expensive holidays to Mexico and Dubai, buying designer clothes, and hosting elaborate parties (pictured). Barlow explained the wealth by claiming she was profiting from her husband's business, and she started encouraging people close to her to invest in his company. There was just one catch: Barlow never actually invested the funds and instead spent the money on herself while promising generous dividends that her friends would never see.
And that wasn't the end of Barlow's deceit. She set up her own fraudulent travel agency, enticing customers with deals that seemed too good to be true. They were. Customers reported driving 300 miles to their holiday destination before being informed there were no bookings in their name, while others claimed Barlow paid for just three days of what was supposed to be a two-week all-inclusive trip.