A Pro wrestler defrauded a fellow wrestler out of £1,500 by pretending he could book a “specialist flights package” to a WWE tournament in New Orleans.
Kaleb Hughes, real name Steven Smith, 31, of Devonshire Road, Fulwood, Preston, admitted two counts of fraud by false representation in a hearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court, after telling victim Matt Hall he could arrange a cheap package to Wrestlemania 30 in the USA.
Hughes, nicknamed “the Samurai”, had offered to book the flights for Mr Hall, who transferred £1,500 to him, the bench heard.
But three weeks before the holiday, in 2013, he claimed the flights had been “cancelled” and they needed to re-book urgently or they would miss out.
Hall, from the East Midlands, borrowed the money from his father and went on the holiday with Hughes.
After they arrived back, he contacted Hughes on numerous occasions about getting the money back, to no avail.
WWE later informed Hall no specialist flights package existed.
Smith, thought to have been on the wrestling scene since 2003, was ordered to carry out unpaid work for 150 hours and pay compensation of £1,500, as well as a £60 surcharge and £85 costs.
Today Hall, who has been wrestling since the age of 12, said: “He has brought shame on the world of wrestling.
“I hope he never works in wrestling again and I’m glad people know about the court case.
“I had been friends, so I thought, with him for a long time. He told me about a flights package to Wrestlemania and I believed him and gave him the money.
“Three weeks before we were due to go he told me they had been cancelled. I borrowed more money from my father.
“But when we arrived back he kept making excuses when I tried to get the cash back.
“Eventually, once WWE confirmed the package didn’t exist, we gave him the option of giving us the money back before we took police action.
“He said he would sent it to our account, but didn’t.”
“At the time, I thought it was just the price to pay to go to Wrestlemania. Steve had convinced me by making certain packages up such as getting extra days in the hotel.”
Today Steve Fludder, manager of Preston City Wrestling, said: “The wrestling community is extremely disappointed to learn of these proceedings.
“Kaleb Hughes competed in the PCW Rumble 2014 for the World Championship in March 2014.
“We would always urge wrestling enthusiasts to be careful when booking flights packages – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”
Members of Preston’s wrestling community told the Evening Post Hughes had been “lying low” for the past six months.
The Evening Post attempted without success to contact him at his Preston address.