Wayne Rooney helped Trading Standards catch a prolific conman who sold thousands of signed fake replica football shirts, it emerged yesterday.
The former England striker provided an autograph for Trading Standards investigators to prove it wasn't the same as the one faked on a Manchester United shirt by David Rennie.
Rennie claimed he had a team who spent hours waiting outside football training grounds for stars like Rooney, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to sign goods like shirts, balls and boots.
Over a nine year period Rennie sold 4,500 autographed items to football fans for as much as £700 each.
But in reality Rennie was buying large quantities of replica shirts from high street shops like Sports Direct and used a Sharpie permanent marker pen to create very good fake autographs on them.
Officials from Dorset Trading Standards made a test purchase of a Manchester United shirt supposedly signed by Rooney for £150 after receiving complaints about Rennie's online business, FA Premier Signings.
They contacted Terry Baker, of A1 Sporting Memorabilia, which represents Rooney, and he took the fake shirt to the then Manchester United player.
From there Trading Standards launched an eight month investigation into Rennie and they established he had conned 4,500 victims over the years.
Neil Martin, the principal Trading Standards officer who led the investigation, 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.”
Appearing at Bournemouth Crown Court yesterday, Rennie pleaded not guilty to running a fraudulent business over a period of nine years and transferring criminal proceeds to his bank account.
He will return to court next month for sentencing.