A man who conned West Ham footballers and staff out of thousands of pounds with a luxury hamper scam has been jailed.

Stephen Ackerman, 48, of Hillcroft, Loughton swindled them out of more than £60,000 by posing as businessman Mark Kingston. He went to the Hammers’ Chadwell Heath training ground and took card payments from then manager Sam Allardyce and players, including England striker Andy Carroll, for Christmas hampers that he said would be delivered in December 2014.

The luxury goods were never delivered and in the following weeks some of the victims then noticed unauthorised payments running into the thousands charged to their bank accounts.

They reported the matter to police and following an investigation by Newham CID, Ackerman, of Hillcroft, Loughton, was arrested in March 2015 after search warrants were carried out at addresses linked to him throughout Essex and Hertfordshire.

Ackerman was arrested in March 2015 and on Monday, October 31 was found guilty of 18 counts of fraud, totalling more than £60,000.

He was sentenced at the same court on Friday, 25 November, to four years imprisonment.

Acting Detective Sergeant Jamie Snell, from Newham CID, said: “Ackerman preyed on the trust of people he approached and essentially told an elaborate pack of lies in order to get them to part with their cash. He defrauded a total of £61,047 from his victims and thought that due to their fame they would never report the matter to the police.

“He is a confident and accomplished fraudster and we are delighted with the maximum sentence that was passed today.”

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