AN alleged fraudster accused of ripping off sports fans in a travel scam in Mojacar in 2012 has made headlines again, this time in the UK.
Stephen Ackerman, 48, of Loughton in Essex, lived in Mojacar for many years, running a number of sports-travel businesses from an office in the resort.
The Mojacar-based empire was abruptly shut down after charges of credit card fraud were brought upon the Essex entrepreneur.
According to reports in the UK press, Ackerman has been up to no good, this time in an alleged scam involving footballers and backroom staff at a Premier League football club.
Dozens of players at West Ham United reported their credit cards had been used fraudulently after purchasing luxury food and drink items from a man calling himself Mark Kingston (an alias allegedly used by Ackerman).
The court heard that the alleged conman set up a stall outside the club’s Chadwell Heath training ground in December 2014 after making contact with a club representative in a trendy Essex bar.
Players and staff were offered luxury hampers from prestigious brands such as Fortnum and Mason and Harrods, along with bottles of expensive Champagne including Laurent Perrier and Cristal.
The goods were scheduled to be delivered before Christmas but none materialised. The victims later found their credit cards had been used in unauthorised transactions, totalling more than £63,000 (€76,000).
Newly appointed England manager and former West Ham boss, Sam Allardyce, was allegedly ripped off to the sum of some £13,000 (€15,600).
Ackerman first came under the spotlight in 2012, after dozens of cricket fans who had booked tickets to Sri Lanka to follow the England team arrived at the airport to find their flight tickets were not valid.
This was the first in a long line of fraudulent activities connected to Ackerman and his main Mojacar-based business, Sports Travel Internacional, which would surface in the subsequent weeks and months.
A high-profile victim was Sir Ian Botham’s daughter Sarah who bought tickets from the firm for a charity cricket match in Spain.
The charity workers were told by airport check-in staff that their tickets had been cancelled as they were purchased using stolen credit cards.
Following a joint investigation between UK and Spanish police forces, Ackerman, along with members of his team in Mojacar were arrested and detained by Guardia Civil.
According to a statement by Ackerman, he knew nothing about the alleged credit card fraud and instead blamed a former member of staff he sacked weeks before the investigation came to a head. The group were later bailed and Ackerman returned to the UK.
The trial continues at Snaresbrook crown court, Ackerman denies 17 counts of fraud.