Warnings of international con artist operating in St Albans

The Craft and Cleaver, St Albans - photo Google Street View.

The Craft and Cleaver, St Albans - photo Google Street View. - Credit: Archant

An international con artist has been raking in hundreds of pounds from unsuspecting St Albans pubs.

A man believed to be the same hustler, with red hair and an Irish accent, has been carrying out a hoax in Bath, Bristol, and as far away as Los Angeles.

Calling himself Mike McAdam, the scammer fooled the owner of the Craft and Cleaver, Adam Richardson - and it is believed he has deceived about 10 other pubs in the area.

Early last week, Mike went into the pub and asked to book a fictitious event, claiming to be from the Hertfordshire University Rugby Club.

Misled by his confident way of speaking and knowledge of St Albans, when Mike asked Adam for an £100 donation to the rugby club’s designated charity, he handed over the money up-front.

Adam said: “I kicked myself afterwards, the more I thought about it the more I thought something wasn’t right, but he talked very confidently about knowing other landlords in St Albans so I assumed he was a local guy - despite his Irish accent - and he seemed pretty genuine.”

He even asked Mike: “How did I know this isn’t a scam?” but was satisfied with the answer.

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After realising the mistake, Adam investigated the deceit, and was shocked with the results - an article on CBS Los Angeles website described the same deception using the UCLA rugby team with a picture of the man who conned Adam. Mike also reportedly goes by the alias Chris Patterson.

Adam tried to set up a second meeting to trap the hoaxer, but Mike did not show up.

“I want this guy to get his comeuppance,” Adam added. Another St Albans pub, the owner of which would prefer not to be named, was also taken in by the sham.

A staff member said: “Everything was so professional, he had flyers made up and he knew about the students union. The dishonesty of some people who seem so genuine, who will lie to your face, is a little bit gutting. I suppose you just can’t take people at face value anymore - you have to be careful and make sure that everything is Kosher.”

A spokesperson from Action Fraud said the crimes are being assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at the City of London Police “to determine whether there are sufficient lines of enquiry for an investigation based in the UK”.

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.