A CONMAN who promised luxury hampers to Premier League footballers before disappearing with thousands of pounds has been convicted.

Stephen Ackerman, 48, of Hillcroft, Loughton, was found guilty of 18 counts of fraud, totalling more than £60,000 at Snaresbrook Crown Court today (October 31).

The court heard how Ackerman targeted West Ham footballers at their training ground on December 12, 2014, with the promise of luxury Christmas hampers.

Ackerman, using the pseudonym 'Mark Kingston', took money off a number of staff, players, and England’s brief manager, Sam Allardyce, while 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 was arrested on March 5, 2015.

He was charged on October 22, 2015 with 13 counts of fraud, four offences for using compromised bank cards and one count of possessing an article for use in fraud.

Ackerman was caught after search warrants were carried out at addresses linked to him throughout Essex and Hertfordshire.

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

He was picked out of an ID parade by one witness following his arrest.

Police also obtained evidence of telephone calls with Ackerman purporting to be Mark Kingston while using a credit card belonging to one of the footballers.

Ackerman will be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, 25 November.

Assistant detective sergeant from Newham CID, Jamie Snell 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."