HE stole nearly £30,000 through an eBay scam, but conman Andrew Alden has been told he will only have to pay back a nominal £1.

At a Proceeds of Crime Hearing, York Crown Court was told that 27-year-old Alden had no assets and lived on benefits so could pay nothing back to the court.

A special investigator who looked into his finances found no bank accounts or expensive products which could have been purchased with the thousands of pounds he stole.

Prosecutor Michele Stuart-Lofthouse said that Alden had told police he had debts but no-one really knew where the cash had gone.

She said: “We don’t know what he has done with his money.”

Alden was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence last November after admitting fleecing 49 peoeple out of £28,967 by advertising non-existent tickets for the rugby World Cup on eBay between April 2006 and January 2007.

He operated from an address in Dixons Yard, Walmgate.

Alden, who has sevn previous convictions for dishonesty, pleaded guilty to seven charges of deception, one of obtaining eBay and PayPal facilities by deception and asked for 42 similar offences to be taken into consideration.

It had been hoped that all his ill-gotten gains would have been seized through the Proceeds of Crime Act, but because of his lack of assets he was even able to escape paying £364 in court costs.

Judge Stephen Ashurst, the Recorder of York, said Alden, who used to live in York, but is now in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, had nothing which could be seized.

He said: “He has been a student and in recent years he has performed some part-time employment, but since last year he has been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance.

He is overdrawn at the bank and has no property, so therefore there are no assets against which a confiscation order can be made.

“If there are no realisable assets the court is not entitled to make a confiscation order, more’s the pity.”

But Judge Ashurst said that if it had been found that Alden had hidden any assets they could be seized at a later date.

Because he started the scam more than a year before the tournament began, buyers did not realise until much later that the tickets would not arrive.

This meant they were not covered by eBay’s 45-day protection period for purchases.