HE believed he had the answer to his cash problems – by preying on young pop fans.

Desperate to see the headline acts of One Direction and Olly Murs, fans placed adverts on the Internet begging for spare tickets.

Liam McMahon saw them – and exploited their gullibility.

“I’ve got some,” he replied.

So they sent off their cash – up to £50 a ticket – and waited for them to drop through the letterbox.

But the man who also worked as an illustrator had conned them. He had nothing to sell and ran off with their money.

Guilty plea Now the law has caught up with McMahon, who thought he had got away with more than £2,000.

A judge described him as a “persistent fraudster and thief” when he was jailed for 28 months at Southampton Crown Court.

McMahon, 28, of Stafford Road, Southampton, admitted five counts of fraud and asked for 20 others to be considered.

He also pleaded guilty to 12 charges of making and distributing indecent pictures of children.

Prosecutor Tim Compton described how a United States child protection team contacted police after images had been downloaded on McMahon’s computer at an address in London.

But when detectives swooped, they discovered he had left.

However, an investigation led them to a bedsit in Southampton where his room was searched and his laptop seized.

They discovered he had downloaded in excess of 130 images and had passed 18 of them on by text, although it was not known whether they had been forwarded to one person or a paedophile ring.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Henry told McMahon, who had 12 previous convictions for 48 offences, he was a “persistent fraudster and thief”.

“You persuaded people to put money into your bank account but you never had any tickets.

“They lost their money and were caused considerable inconvenience. It required considerable planning and execution.”

‘Shameful’ In mitigation, Berenice Mulvanny said McMahon had made a full and frank confession about the fraud charges.

His severe depression and mental health issues had made it a struggle for him to hold down a full-time job and a long-term relationship.

Miss Mulvanny added: “He says his behaviour was unforgivably shameful and disgusting.”

In addition to the jail term, the judge ordered McMahon to be placed on the sex offenders register for ten years and be the subject of a sexual offences prevention order – determined to run indefinitely – which restricts McMahon’s use of the Internet.