AN eBay memorabilia fraudster has met a judge’s six-month challenge to repay the customers he duped out of more than £60,000.

Anthony McCabe sold 876 football, rugby and other sports shirts supposedly signed by stars of the games, between 2014 and 2018.

Each came with a Certificate of Authenticity, to give an air of legitimacy to the product, purporting they were the shirts worn by the players claimed by McCabe.

Durham Crown Court heard that in reality they were sports shirts McCabe collected over the years bearing signatures simply added by him in marker pen.

The lucrative ‘sideline’ for the company national sales manager began to unravel, however, after a complaint, by an eBay user over the sale of memorabilia bearing fake autographs, was made to Durham County Council’s trading standards department, in February 2018.

Payment for the fake items was made from various PayPal accounts into an accomplice’s bank account, which he allowed to be withdrawn and re-banked by McCabe.

There were said to be 294 deposits from PayPal between 31 March 2014 and 24 April 2018, totalling £44,337.51.

Co-accused, John Thomas Ruddick, 61, of Front Street, Spennymoor, admitted transferring criminal property.

He was given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with a two-month 7pm to 7am home curfew, at the court in November.

McCabe, now 38, of Durham Road, Spennymoor, admitted two counts of fraud and a single count of transferring criminal property.

Judge Ray Singh deferred sentence for six months to give him the chance of raising the £60,500 to compensate the conned customers.

On his return to court, his counsel, Vic Laffey, confirmed he had met the target by re-mortgaging his home.

Mr Laffey said: “He has raised enough to compensate the complainants and meet the costs of the case, as well.”

He said the defendant remains highly-regarded by his employers, but added: “The bottom line is that he knows how lucky he has been.”

Describing it as, “mean and nasty”, Judge Singh told McCabe: “This was a fairly significant venture on your part, even providing certificates suggesting they were authentic and 100-per cent genuine, when of course, they were not.

“They were fake and you played on the goodwill and generosity of genuine people, who thought they were buying genuine items, extending over a significant time.”

The judge imposed a 20-month sentence, suspended for two years, during which McCabe must complete 80-hours’ unpaid work, and abide by a two-month 8pm to 6am home curfew.

On top of the £60,500 compensation order he must pay £1,322 costs, within 28 days.