Serial conman pleads guilty to defrauding woman out of £300,000

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A serial conman has pleaded guilty to defrauding his ex-girlfriend out of nearly £300,000.

Mark Acklom, 45, duped Carolyn Woods into lending him her life savings by misleading her into thinking they were in a “committed relationship” despite him already being married.

On Wednesday, Acklom, who was extradited from Geneva, Switzerland, admitted five counts of fraud by false representation before his trial at Bristol Crown Court was due to start.

Acklom posed as a Swiss banker and MI6 agent during a year-long relationship with Ms Woods, who he misled into thinking they were in a “committed relationship” and would get married.

They met when the former public schoolboy walked into a boutique she worked at in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, to buy a jacket, and began chatting her up.

Acklom then duped her into lending him £299,564 of her life savings in 2012 for renovation work at a number of properties in Bath, Somerset.

He later left the country and was named as one of the UK’s most wanted fugitives as part of Operation Captura, a multi-agency initiative involving the NCA and Crimestoppers to track down British fugitives abroad.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued in June 2016 and he was believed to be at large in Spain, having been released from a Spanish prison over a £200,000 property fraud.

In May 2017 he was spotted in Geneva, where he was believed to have been with his family.

Acklom was arrested in Switzerland the following month, after being found at a luxury apartment in Zurich where he had been living under a false name after more than two years on the run.

When Acklom was arrested he was married to Maria Yolanda Ros Rodriguez, and together they had two young daughters.

She was known to use aliases including Yolianda Ross, Maria Long and Mary Moss, and may have worked as a yoga teacher or attended yoga classes.

Mark Acklom
Mark Acklom, aged 18 (PA)

He was extradited to the UK from Switzerland earlier this year to face the fraud charges.

He faced a 20 count indictment including fraud by false representation and converting criminal property, but his barrister Gudrun Young asked for him to be re-arraigned after a jury had been sworn in his trial.

After his guilty pleas to five counts of fraud, prosecutor Charles Thomas said: “Those pleas are acceptable to the Crown.”

Judge Martin Picton adjourned sentencing until 2pm on Wednesday.

In 1991, Acklom, then aged 16, received a four-year custodial sentence for a £466,000 mortgage fraud after he posed as a City stockbroker.

He also spent £11,000 after stealing his father’s credit card, swindled a former teacher out of £13,000 and ran up a £34,000 bill with a private charter jet company.

Acklom convinced Leeds Permanent Building Society at the age of 16 that he was a 25-year-old stockbroker on £214,000 a year.

They gave him a £466,000 mortgage for a £516,000 executive home in Dulwich, south London.

Before he was sentenced, his barrister claimed Acklom was a “disturbed” teenager out of touch with reality who stole the credit card “for wining and dining girlfriends and to live an extravagant lifestyle beyond his means … he could not possibly have hoped to get away with it”.

But the judge told Acklom: “I do not accept, for one moment, the suggestion that you were a sort of Walter Mitty character.”

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