Fraudster gets confiscation order
A fraudster who sold non-existent tickets to the Olympics, Royal Variety Performance and Champions League football final has been ordered by a court to pay back more than £300,000.
Samuel Ernest, 47, a US citizen living in the UK, pretended to run his own high-profile corporate hospitality business and claimed to be linked to Prestige Ticketing Limited, the official provider of Olympic hospitality packages for the London 2012 Games.
He had a large network of associates and would also befriend women through speed dating events so he could exploit them, their friends, family and contacts.
Ernest, who was jailed for four and a half years in February, was ordered to pay back £308,380 at a confiscation hearing yesterday at Kingston Crown Court in south-west London, the Metropolitan Police said.
He was unable to tell the court how he had acquired those assets while living in the UK illegally between 2006 and 2012, according to Scotland Yard.
Ernest fleeced the charity ChildLine by winning a silent auction for corporate hospitality tickets for the London 2012 opening ceremony, dinner with a celebrity chef and a night in a top London hotel.
He then resold the tickets for £4,000, but the charity was not paid the money.
Detective superintendent Nick Downing of the Metropolitan Police's central criminal finances team said: "Ernest convinced his victims that he was a high-flying corporate hospitality organiser with a network of high-profile contacts that included celebrities. In fact, he is an audacious confidence trickster with no feeling for his victims, including those women whose emotions he exploited to get to their money.
"Such was the extent of Ernest's self-belief that he tried to pass himself off as his twin brother. It was only when he eventually came to court that he admitted who he was. Ernest didn't believe that we would find him but he underestimated my detectives' sheer determination and dogged pursuit.
"This confiscation order is an example to others that if you're making money from crime, we won't stop at convicting you - we'll also come after your cash."