England

Man jailed for £1m fake football memorabilia fraud

items seized by trading standards Image copyright Dorset Trading Standards
Image caption Certificates and signed footballs were among items seized by trading standards officers

A fraudster who funded his "lavish lifestyle" by selling fake football memorabilia bearing "signatures" of the game's biggest stars has been jailed.

David Rennie, 46, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, sold shirts, balls and boots to online customers around the world, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

He was jailed for six years after being found guilty in January of fraud and money laundering.

Investigators said Mr Rennie, of Stroud Close, had made £1m over nine years.

His wife Clare, 45, who previously admitted the two offences, is due to be sentenced on 27 February.

Image caption David Rennie made £1m over nine years, the court heard

Dorset Trading Standards prosecuted the couple after purchasing items from their website, FA Premier Signings.

It sold football paraphernalia purportedly signed by famous footballers including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney.

They were charged with participating in a fraudulent business as a sole trader and money laundering.

Acting on a complaint, trading standards officers obtained what was claimed to be a signed Wayne Rooney Manchester United shirt costing £150.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The couple claimed to have signed merchandise by the world's top footballers, including Wayne Rooney

Football memorabilia experts told David Rennie's trial they believed the signature was forged.

The court heard a significant number of unsigned shirts and fake "certificates of authenticity" were found at Mr Rennie's home in 2016.

The fraud helped to fund a "lavish lifestyle", including family holidays to Florida and luxury cars, trading standards said.

Lead investigator Neil Martin said the "deliberate and long-term fraud" had duped some customers into paying more than £700 for "worthless" items.

Image copyright FA Premier Signings / Facebook
Image caption The Rennies' website sold fake signed squad shirts for more than £700

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