A CONMAN from Oxfordshire made £1m selling football memorabilia scrawled with fake autographs.

David Rennie, who lives in Banbury, was found guilty of the scam after former England striker Wayne Rooney helped Trading Standards.

Rooney helped to expose the fraud by checking his autograph against one faked on a Manchester United shirt, sold by 46-year-old Rennie's online business FA Premier Signings.

He provided investigators with a declaration confirming he had not signed the shirt, triggering an extensive probe. 

Rennie's scam was revealed this week at Bournemouth Crown Court, where a jury found him guilty of fraud charges.

During a nine-year period, Rennie faked autographs by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Steven Gerrard on about 4,500 football shirts, boots and balls which he sold to customers.

His victims included a mother who paid £300 for a 'signed' Thierry Henry shirt to cheer up her son after his father died.

The FA Premier Signings website claimed its team spent hours waiting outside football training grounds for stars to sign goods.

In reality, Rennie bought replica shirts from high street shops and used a marker pen to scribble convincing counterfeit autographs. 

In February 2015 Dorset Trading Standards made a test purchase of a Manchester United shirt supposedly signed by Rooney for £150 after receiving complaints about Rennie.

They contacted A1 Sporting Memorabilia, which represents Rooney and contacted the then Manchester United player.

Speaking at his trial in Bournemouth, Judge Peter Crabtree told Rennie: "You have been convicted of extremely serious offences - the sentence is inevitably going to be a custodial one."

Rennie's estranged wife Clare, 45, had previously pleaded guilty to her part in the con.

The pair are due to be sentenced on February 16.

Neil Martin, who led the investigation for Dorset County Council's Trading Standards, said: "This was a deliberate and long-term fraud that conned 4,500 people into buying fake signed football memorabilia. 

"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 with this case."