February 6 - A conman who sold £50,000 ($78,000/€59,000) worth of fake London 2012 Olympic Games, UEFA Champions League and other top sport events tickets has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Samuel Ernest, who pretended he was linked to Prestige Ticketing Limited - the official providers of the Olympics and Paralympics hospitality packages, also cheated a children's charity out of £8,250 ($12,900/€9,500) by organising a ticket auction then keeping the cash for himself.
Police probing the sale of fake tickets arrested the 46-year-old United States citizen, of no fixed address, in August after it was discovered that he used speed-dating events to befriend women and exploit their friends and families.
"He is a serial fraudster and did not care who he ripped off," Detective Superintendent Nick Downing said.
"Some victims arranged accommodation and travel before realising they had been victims of a scam."
Ernest pleaded guilty to 17 counts of fraud and one count of possessing his twin's US passport, at Kingston Crown Court in South West London in December last year.
Five other fraud charges were ordered to lie on file.
Rob Davis, CPS London reviewing lawyer, said: "Ernest defrauded these individuals and the organisation of tens of thousands of pounds which they had paid for tickets to high profile events, including London 2012 Olympic events and the Champions League final, which never materialised.
"CPS London takes these crimes very seriously – the victims in this case lost out financially and were greatly distressed after discovering they had been deceived.
"This conviction should serve as a warning to anyone considering involvement in ticket fraud that CPS London will work closely with our police partners to put strong cases before the court.
"The many hours of work by CPS staff on this case resulted in a strong case which gave Ernest no choice but to plead guilty."
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