A former employee of three major sports clubs netted more than £180,000 through a complex global fraud operation.

Craig Hookham, who worked at Manchester City Football Club, Sale Sharks and Salford Red Devils, defrauded more than 50 people into believing they were buying concert tickets for high profile artists and a number of football/rugby matches at venues across the country. 

Hookham, 39, of Medlock Way, Whitefield, used Covid and strict lockdown conditions to make his victims believe the events had been postponed in order to hide the truth - they there were not any such events taking place.

The court heard how Hookham, who left his employment at Sale Sharks in the summer of 2018, had previously gained an excellent working reputation for sourcing tickets for hospitality events.

He used this reputation when contacting ex-clients and their associates to offer tickets for sale for rugby and football matches, as well as private intimate concerts of several artists, including Adele and Justin Timberlake.

He said the hospitality packages included a three-course meal, champagne reception and host/hostess service, with all drinks being included.

The fictitious tickets also included meet-and-greet with the artists with an acoustic set for after the concert, tea and coffee served during interval and finally, an opportunity to take a photograph with the artist - to take place at a hotel in Manchester in late 2019 and 2020.

The fraud was only uncovered when one of his victims became suspicious after the events he had bought tickets for kept being postponed.

His investigation uncovered Hookham’s fraudulent activities.

After an initial police interview in September 2020, Hookham’s digital devices were confiscated and examined by specialist forensic teams within Greater Manchester Police. These detailed the size of the fraud Hookham had carried out, reaching across the globe.

He subsequently pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to two years and four months.

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DC David Potter of Bury CID said: “First of all, we would like to thank the victims, some of whom do not reside in the UK, for coming forwards and cooperating with the investigation. Without this support, we wouldn’t have achieved today’s result.

“As a force, Greater Manchester Police is committed to identifying and stopping fraudulent activity with the area and we would encourage anyone who feels they have been a victim to come forward and report it to us.”

GMP can be contacted by calling 101 or through the Live Chat function on gmp.police.uk.