West Ham con artist jailed for Christmas hamper fraud

Ackerman defrauded people of over £60,000.

Ackerman defrauded people of over £60,000. - Credit: Archant

A fraudster who conned West Ham footballers out of more than £60,000 has today been sentenced to four years in prison.

Stephen Ackerman, of Hillcroft in Loughton, put the scam into action on December 12 2014, when he went to West Ham’s training ground and claimed to be selling luxury Christmas hampers.

Using the name “Mark Kingston”, the 48-year-old charged players and staff from the club using a handheld chip and pin machine - but his customers never received their goods.

In the weeks that followed, some noticed unauthorised payments running into thousands of pounds from their bank account.

An investigation showed that his vehicle was close to the training ground immediately before and after the fraudster had arrived and left the venue.

Ackerman was arrested on March 5 2015 and picked out of an ID parade by a witness.

He was charged on October 22 2015 with 13 counts of fraud, four offences related to the use of compromised bank cards and one count of possessing an article for use in fraud, and found guilty on all counts at Snaresbrook Crown Court on October 31 2016.

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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.”