The family of a six-year-old girl battling a rare form of cancer have been left distraught after allegedly being scammed out of a £1,700 caravan holiday – by a couple who knew the youngster was ill.
Skye Brierley finished treatment for Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare childhood cancer which caused an inoperable ‘fist-sized’ brain tumour – this January after battling the disease for 18 months.
Relatives were delighted to treat the brave little girl to a family weekend away to Butlins in Skegness next month to celebrate, paying £1,700 to rent two static caravans from a couple claiming online to own them.
The family of a six-year-old girl battling a rare form of cancer have been left distraught after allegedly being scammed out of a £1,700 caravan holiday – by a couple who knew the youngster was ill
But Skye’s devastated mum claims after she and a family member transferred more than £800 each over the phone for the two holiday lets, the ‘owner’ disappeared with the money and has been uncontactable ever since.
Mother-of-three Ruth Brierley, 44, from Blackpool, Lancashire, said: ‘How much bad luck can one family have?
‘When I realised we had been scammed, I was absolutely distraught.
‘Skye is absolutely gutted too.
‘I think it is absolutely disgusting, it’s the fact that he has done it to a little girl who has been fighting cancer.
‘You see it happening to other people, you don’t expect it to happen to you..’
Skye, whose cancer was discovered in 2017 after her left eye went cross-eyed overnight, had to travel to Florida last year for proton beam therapy after battling nine rounds of chemo in the UK.
Her family said they visited the same site at Butlins in 2017 – booking it legitimately from the same owners – before she became ill.
They said the couple knew Skye was ill because they had to cancel another trip there last year due to her illness.
Ms Brierley claims she began making enquiries into re-booking the caravans with the same owners this January, paying £840 over the phone while her sister-in-law paid £885 to the same people for an adjacent site.
But they claim it was only in June – when they made further investigations with the Butlins Caravan Site after struggling to get hold of the alleged owner – they were told the people in question no longer had any caravans on the site.
Ruth alleges she has made multiple attempts to contact the couple since but has been fed ‘lies’.
Skye Brierley finished treatment for Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma – a rare childhood cancer which caused an inoperable ‘fist-sized’ brain tumour – this January after battling the disease for 18 months
These included being told that she had the wrong number when calling them and also that the owners themselves had been conned.
She claimed she has been unable to contact the owners since June, with the broken-hearted family now left without a summer holiday for Skye.
Ms Brierley, also mum to Damien, 10, and Kira, 15, said it would have been the family’s first holiday since Skye’s health improved as her condition had hindered their ability to travel.
Ms Brierley, a full-time carer for husband Michael, 33, who has kidney problems, said: ‘Skye is doing well, she will never be given the complete all clear because the proton therapy she had means she will always show signs of cancer but she finished treatment in January.
‘She goes to school and loves it but has a few memory issues due to the treatment.
‘We went to stay at the caravan in August 2017, it was totally fine.
‘We can’t go abroad due to the cost of travel insurance with Skye’s cancer, it would cost about as much as the holiday itself.
‘We were meant to stay in this caravan last year, but if Skye’s temperature had risen above 38 degrees she had to be in hospital within half an hour and the nearest hospital was more than an hour away, so we cancelled and told the owner about the treatment.
‘The worst thing is the fact the owner did the same to someone else 10 weeks ago, and then he’s phoning me asking for money – he knew when he was phoning me he had no caravans.’
Ms Brierley claimed she has discovered another family – whose daughter is blind – who had fallen for the same alleged scam nine weeks earlier than her.
Relatives were delighted to treat the brave little girl to a family weekend away to Butlins in Skegness next month to celebrate, paying £1,700 to rent two static caravans from a man claiming online to own them
A spokesman for the City of London Police said: ‘The case is currently being assessed by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.’
When approached, the owner of the caravan said he himself had been the victim of a scam – something he said Lincolnshire Police are currently investigating.
He denied taking money from Ruth knowing the caravan was no longer his, and said Action Fraud were also involved in investigating the money he had lost.
The man said: ‘We have been scammed, we took several holiday bookings in good faith.
‘They’ve taken us for £174,000 minimum, the police are saying we are not to blame at all, the caravans when I took the bookings were ours.
‘The person who scammed us promised to give us the money back long before the holidaymakers were coming.’
Butlins and Lincolnshire Police have been approached for comment.
Skye’s family are now fundraising on GoFundMe for a new holiday. To donate, click here.