A serial fraudster has gone into hiding after his fake football ticket scam was rumbled.
Before the coronavirus crisis cut the football season short, Carl McGookin had been taking payment from fans for tickets to see Liverpool and Rangers.
But when excited families arrived at Anfield and Ibrox, having spent hundreds of pounds on travel and hotels, the convicted thief and the tickets failed to show.
One heartbroken boy from Belfast was left in tears outside a packed Anfield when promised tickets to Liverpool's victory over West Ham last month were not handed over.
But the scheming conman had not reckoned with the young boy's family, who after writing about their experiences on social media were inundated with similar stories from other victims.
Disturbing details about 29-year-old McGookin's background then started to emerge, including his previous convictions for fraud. In 2017 he appeared at Ards Magistrates Court to admit a litany of crimes, including assault, phone scams, fraud, breaching court orders and leaving a Belfast hotel without paying an £800 bill.
His offences also included dishonestly obtaining money for tickets for a Carl Frampton fight in Las Vegas in January 2017.
McGookin escaped with a five-month suspended jail sentence after a defence lawyer said the offences were committed while "in the throes of a gambling addiction".
Sunday Life understands he is now in hiding in his native north Belfast, having spent the past few months living in Portavogie on the Ards peninsula.
One of McGookin's victims told Sunday Life: "He has scammed thousands of pounds from ordinary working-class families across Northern Ireland, mostly Liverpool and Rangers fans.
"He has taken money off them for tickets for games and then never showed up with the tickets outside the stadiums.
"This was after people had shelled out hundreds of pounds on travelling to Liverpool and Glasgow and booking hotels.
"Losing the money is bad enough, but what's worse is having to explain to your heartbroken kids that they had travelled all that way to not be able to go to the match."
McGookin, a chef by trade, is also in the frame for allegedly defrauding a Newtownards bar where he was working in the kitchen preparing food.
He has been further accused of scamming a gym owner in the Co Down town who says the conman left him penniless before Christmas and unable to buy his children presents.
Another man who claims to have fallen victim to McGookin's cruel football tickets scam told Sunday Life: "I paid him £250 for two dugout hospitality tickets for Liverpool games against Southampton and Crystal Palace.
"He hasn't refunded me my money and will not reply or answer my calls."
The man said when he initially challenged McGookin about the racket, he was promised a bank transfer refund and then a postal order, neither of which he has received.
At his wits' end he contacted the ticket office at Liverpool FC, which told him McGookin did not have two hospitality seats at Anfield.
"I will leave it up to the police to deal with it now," he said.
"Do yourself a favour and stay clear of Carl McGookin because you will end up with no tickets and a lighter wallet.
"No true Liverpool supporter would do this."