A man with a previously good reputation, clients put their trust in Craig Hookham and paid more than £170,000 to him over two years to buy event tickets from him.

But it later emerged the sports and concert events which Hookham, of Medlock Way, Whitefield, was selling tickets to them for never existed.

Manchester Crown Court heard the fraud, which led to more than 50 victims being conned, started in 2018 after he left his employment at Sale Sharks that year.

Prosecuting, Nick Ross said that from October 1, 2018 to August 29, 2020 Hookham made £123,380 from selling fake sports tickets, and from October 29, 2018 to June 13, 2020 he made £49,450 from selling fake concert tickets.

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Mr Ross said that after Hookham left his employment in 2018 he contacted several ex clients who held him in high regard with a good reputation.

He offered tickets for sale for football and rugby matches along with tickets for private intimate concerts with high profile artists, such as Adele and Justin Timberlake.

Ticket packages included a three-course meal, champagne reception, host service at the table, all drinks included around five hours' worth of event hospitality, meet and greet with artist after the show tea and coffee served during interval and a photo opportunity with a photographer with artist.

They were to be held at the Hilton Hotel in Manchester and scheduled for late 2019 and 2020.

One of Hookham’s clients was a CEO of a company in Bury and bought concert and football tickets from him believing them to be genuine, due to having previously bought rugby tickets from him while he was at Sale Sharks.

He paid Hookham £5,920 directly to his personal bank account.

Another victim who Hookham met during his employment at Sale Sharks also parted with a substantial amount of money after she believed she was purchasing tickets for an Adele concert and a Foo Fighters concert both to be held in 2020.

She paid Hookham £2,025 to his personal account.

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She then went on to purchase further tickets for Queen and the Eagles for £1,700 and Elton John for £350, and “at the request of Hookham she advertised the events for him on social media”.

Mr Ross said: “She was contacted by numerous people, and she forwarded their details onto Hookham who contacted them directly.”

In August 2019 Hookham started to advertise executive box and boot room packages for Liverpool Football Club.

The executive boxes were priced at £3,000 and £4,000 and the boot room tickets cost £400 each.

One man who ran a junior football team paid £13,000 for members of the team to watch Liverpool at Anfield and the money had been sent to him by 15 parents.

Another victim also paid Hookham £11,000 for football tickets for a Liverpool vs Everton match at Anfield on December 2, 2019.

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Around October 2019 some victims contacted Hookham as concerts scheduled for November and December were imminent.

The first scheduled concert was Adele on January 18, 2020. The day before the concert Hookham told his victims that Adele had cancelled the concert due to an injury and said he was waiting for the organisers to arrange the refunds.

Mr Ross said: “People were now sceptical of Hookham’s legitimacy.”

However, Hookham still pushed the sales of football tickets and in February 2020 he was contacted by another victim who bought 13 boot room tickets for £3,315 and an executive box for £4,500 for the final home games of the season at Anfield.

Later, the same victim bought 48 boot room tickets and two executive boxes for £23,490.

In March 2020, the pandemic hit and “played into Hookham’s hands”.

He contacted victims who had requested refunds and said concerts had been rearranged for 2021.

Football matches were also suspended and it was expected that matches would be played behind closed doors.

Hookham told his victims he was dealing with the Premier League directly, and in August 2020 one victim sent him £30,000 for tickets.

This victim then became suspicious, and after making some enquiries found email addresses given to him did not exist.

The victim and Hookham met up and he admitted that the ticket sales were a scam.

Hookham handed himself in a Bury Police Station on September 17, 2020 and admitted to his crimes and handed in his mobile phone and computer.

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Mr Ross said that his crimes were sophisticated, and victims described Hookham as a “con artist” and said they were “disgusted”.

Defending, Rachel Faux said that Hookham’s crimes were not sophisticated as he used his own name and own personal bank account.

She said that he has expressed disgust at his own behaviour, and he has genuine remorse for his crimes.

Ms Faux said Hookham faced financial difficulties after losing his job and his electricity was set to be cut off.

She also said that he entered his guilty plea at the first opportunity and this type of behaviour was completely out of character for him.

Recorder Andrew McLoughlin said that he reeled his victims in as people were attracted to the idea that they could watch very famous performers in a bespoke way.

He also said that some of the football matches did exist but Hookham “didn’t have the ways and means to supply the packages to those people”.

Recorder McLoughlin said: “The purpose behind some refunds was not some sense of remorse by simply to keep the fraud spinning on.

“You were just interested in feathering your own nest.”

Hookham, 39, was sentenced to 28 months after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation.