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Alleged West Ham fraud involved 'Christmas hampers', court hears

Andy Carroll is seen on arrival at the stadium prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and West Ham United at Carrow Road on 13 February 2016 in Norwich, England. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption England striker Andy Carroll is among those alleged to have been defrauded

A man allegedly lured West Ham players and staff into buying luxury hampers at Christmas in 2014 which were never delivered, a court heard.

Stephen Ackerman then used the bank card details to spend thousands of pounds, a jury heard.

A group of 13 people, including the club's former manager Sam Allardyce and England striker Andy Carroll, allegedly paid out £7,310 in total.

Mr Ackerman pleaded not guilty to fraud at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

The plea, entered in March, related to 13 counts of fraud and on Monday he denied six further counts of fraud, totalling around £54,730.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sam Allardyce, now Sunderland manager, is one of those alleged to have lost money

Mr Ackerman, from Essex, is charged with possessing a chip and pin processing device "for use in the course of or in connection with a fraud".

The 48-year-old visited West Ham's training ground on 12 December 2014 "with all the trappings of a successful businessman", driving a black Range Rover and sporting a silver watch, the prosecuting lawyer said.

As he opened the trial, prosecutor Richard Milne said under the pseudonym "Mark Kingston", Mr Ackerman allegedly set up a stall with the hampers containing Belgian chocolates, Yorkshire crisps and champagne, heavily discounted at £60.

He then used the details of five people who paid for the hampers and cases of champagne by card to further defraud them, taking more than £50,000, the court heard.

Mr Milne said Mr Ackerman came up with a "ruse" and wanted the players' card details.

He added: "They were taken in by the trappings of success and were exploited and defrauded by putting in orders both by cash and by card.

"These players, management, employees paid up and they never got their goods, their champagne and their hampers."

Former West Ham players and Mr Allardyce are expected to give evidence on Tuesday, when the trial continues.

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