A con artist who stole more than £1.2m and illegally opened 76 separate bank accounts has been jailed.

George Eduard Costache, of Winchester, sold caravans, tractors and heavy plant machinery - which did not exist - to sellers from across the globe.

Winchester Crown Court heard that he got his victims to pay into bank accounts that had been opened using counterfeit European identification documents.

The 34-year-old pleaded guilty to committing fraud by false representation across Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey – all of which occurred between September 1, 2018 and July 3, 2020.

The court also heard that during a search of an address at which Costache resided, 23 counterfeit European identification documents and passports were located and linked these to the fraudulent activity.

Costache, of Sussex Street, was found guilty of four counts of fraud, one count of possession of articles for use in fraud and one count of money laundering.

He was handed a four-year custodial sentence for money laundering with four years concurrent for committing fraud and two years concurrent for possession of 23 counterfeit identification documents.

Detective Sergeant, Marcus Mills, said: "Today, with the support of a wide-range of national and international partners, an offender has been brought to justice and handed a substantial custodial sentence. This was a complex investigation which has yielded a fantastic result. The cost to Costache’s victims have been potentially life-changing, both financially and psychologically, so we are pleased to see that he is no longer a threat to the local communities of Hampshire, Surrey and Dorset.

“In handing down a lengthy sentence, which reflects the nature and severity of his criminal activity, we hope that this will act as a future deterrent to those individuals looking to exploit both banking institutes and vulnerable people who unfortunately fall victim to fraudulent schemes.