Wayne Rooney has helped bust a conman who earned £1million by ripping off fans with fake sports memorabilia.
The Everton striker signed a Manchester United shirt for Trading Standards investigators who were looking into claims David Rennie had been selling counterfeit shirts, balls and boots.
Four-and-a-half-thousand pieces of memorabilia ‘autographed’ by the likes of Rooney, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo was flogged by Rennie over a nine-year period.
However, it emerged that the items provided by Rennie’s online business, FA Premier Signings, were fake.
The 46-year-old purchased replicas from shops like Sports Direct and used a Sharpie marker pen to scribble autographs.
Dorset Trading Standards bought a £150 United shirt that was allegedly signed by Rooney, who then inspected the item and confirmed it was a fake.
Rennie, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, was found guilty of fraud charges at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday and faces a substantial prison sentence.
His estranged wife Clare is awaiting sentence after admitting her part in the scam.
Neil Martin from Trading Standards said: “This was a deliberate and long-term fraud that conned 4,500 people into buying fake signed football memorabilia.
“To gather evidence in this case we have had to contact a number of FA Premier Signings’ customers to tell them the items they purchased are fake and as such are worthless.
“This is after they have spent upwards of £150 for a single signed shirt to over £700 for a squad signed shirt.”
“A successful investigation like this can only happen with the backing of evidence from those affected.
This includes consumers, legitimate businesses involved and in this case Wayne Rooney who initially confirmed that a signed shirt we purchased was a fake.
“There are a number of genuine memorabilia business that spend a lot of time and money ensuring that the items they supply are genuine. We are very grateful to some of these companies who helped us in this case”.