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

Stephen Ackerman, 48, went to the Hammers’ Chadwell Heath training ground and introduced himself as businessman Mark Kingston.

He promised players, including England striker Andy Carroll, the Christmas hampers would be delivered in December 2014 and took payments using a handheld chip and pin device.

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.

Police obtained evidence of telephone calls with Ackerman purporting to be Mark Kingston while using a credit card belonging to one of the footballers and proved his vehicle was close to the training ground immediately before and after the fraudster had arrived and left the venue.

Following a trial he was found guilty on Monday, October 31 at Snaresbrook Crown Court of 18 counts of fraud, totalling more than £60,000. Ackerman will be sentenced on Friday, 25 November.

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 to have received this verdict from the jury today.”

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