A PROLIFIC conman who began his life of crime in Sussex is on the run after allegedly defrauding his lover out of £850,000.

Mark Acklom, who committed an infamous £1m fraud while a schoolboy in Eastbourne, is on an international most wanted list after allegedly borrowing the money from his fiancee for renovations to a house he didn't own.

The 43-year-old is thought to be in Spain where he disappeared in March after being released from prison for another fraud.

Police starting investigating him two years ago when Carolyn Woods came forward to say he had conned her after pretending to be an MI6 agent posing as a Swiss banker.

The 55-year-old, from Bath, reportedly said: "He was flirtatious, charming and very entertaining. He has a great presence and charisma, he exudes confidence and the air around him was electric. I was caught up in a whirlwind of excitement.

"I was completely devastated, he left me destitute and destroyed my life. I felt as though I had fallen in love. He told me he had never felt this way about anyone and we must get married.

"I've still got the wedding dress I never wore. It was all a charade. At the time I actually wished he had killed me. I was suicidal."

She said she lent Acklom the nearly £1million from her savings after he slowly isolated her and got her to leave her job and move in with him.

Acklom first hit the headlines in 1991 when, while a schoolboy at Eastbourne College, he used his wealthy father's American Express card to run up more than one million pounds of debt, including conning a building society into giving him a mortgage to buy a £500,000 house close to Margaret Thatcher's home.

He also entertained his girlfriend by booking into the Presidential suite of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, costing £600 for the night.

In court his defence barrister, Charles Conway, compared Acklom to the fictional fantasist Walter Mitty and said he had a "disturbed and complex" mind.

This week Acklom was listed in a new appeal launched by the National Crime Agency and Crimestoppers to identify identifying ten most wanted British fugitives believed to be in Spain.

Det Insp Adam Bunting said: “The victim in this case was conned out of a large amount of money by a man she was in a relationship with, who claimed to work in the banking world in Switzerland and latterly for an intelligence agency “The offences are being treated as fraud by false representation and in June 2016 we obtained a European Arrest Warrant for Mark Richard Acklom, who is believed to be in Spain.

"Be our eyes and ears and tell us if you have any information on the whereabouts of our targets."

Acklom is described as five foot, ten inches, of medium build, with dark brown hair and green eyes.


WHILE other boys at Eastbourne College boarding school were playing hockey, 16-year-old Mike Acklom took his friends for a champagne spree at the Grand Hotel.

The privileged teenager was experiencing his first taste of the high-life and fraud, stealing his wealthy father's American Express card and conning people to rack up more than £1million of debt.

Described as "just a normal boy" by his headteacher at the time, he hired private jets, shopped at Harrods, wined and dined chums on Dom Perignon and lobster, and entertained them at Stringfellow's strip club.

Said by a classmate to have been bullied at school, Acklom nonetheless used his smooth tongue, mature looks and basic knowledge of the business world to devastating effect.

Showing some early flair for fraud, the teenager managed to convince the Leeds Permanent Building Society he was a £214,000-a-year City broker and persuaded them to give him a mortgage to buy a £500,00 house in Dulwich, close to Margaret Thatcher's home.

Armed with a mobile telephone and sporting brightly coloured braces, his confidence in being able to trick others grew along with recklessness of his behaviour and the harm he did to people around him.

One of his victims was one of his old teachers, conned into investing thousands of pounds into a supposedly money-spinning scheme.

Acklom invited Ian Markland to invest in a new company supposedly planning the takeover of the company behind the hit movie A Fish Called Wanda.

Mr Markland was duped, believing Acklom to be extremely mature for his age, according to reports in The Argus at the time.

The teacher and his girlfriend, Rose Iles, handed over all the money they could raise, just over £18,000.

Those were not his only early victims: his parents had to swap their modern detached house in Bromley for rented accommodation in Dulwich to pay some of their son's debts.

Aged only 18 when he admitted the offences in court, he was described by the judge as "ruthless" and by his own barrister as a Walter Mitty fantasist character with a "disturbed and complex mind".

His parents stood by him, however, with his mother, Diana Acklom, pledging to appeal his sentence of four years in youth custody. "I think it's disgusting and unwarranted," she said, fighting back tears.

But if the spell in youth prison was meant to teach him to behave better, it apparently taught him the opposite.

It is believed he has used a string of aliases over the years, including Marc Ros Rodriguez, George Kennedy and Zac Moss.

He has reportedly been jailed three times in Spain for a variety of fraud offences, disappearing in March this year after being released from prison.

In 2012 using the name Mark Conway, he walked into the life of 55-year-old businesswoman Carolyn Woods.

Strolling into her Gloucestershire boutique one day to buy a jacket, he allegedly told her he was a Swiss banker visiting the UK to buy a Cotswold airfield.

She said they soon began a relationship, with Acklom eventually allegedly telling her his banker identity was a cover and he was actually an MI6 agent.

She told Sky News: "We were in London and he said he'd been called in by his boss, so he drove me to the MI6 building and I watched him walk down into a car park past two armed policemen.

"There are no photographs of us together because he said his handlers would not allow it because of his security. He began to get to me psychologically and I became frightened.

"What he was trying to do was isolate me, he got me to leave my job, move in with him and by the time I had given up my independence I was a prisoner."

She said she ended up lending him £850,000 after overhearing him talk about cash flow problems, and that her daughters believed she had been brainwashed.

Business owner Bud Mott was among those to meet Mark using a the name Marc Ros Rodriguez.

"He was just a shady character. They used to go flying around in Maseratis," said Mr Mott, who told The Argus he was not paid about £600 for external cleaning work done for Mark and another man, about five years ago in Abbots Leigh, outside Bristol.

Someone claiming to be Marc Ros Rodriguez appears to have mounted a defence of his life in a blog in 2013, in which he rebuts allegations and says he has received threats.

"As a result of the need by some for transparency in a way which only a President of a country actually needs to suffer I took the step of publishing the facts about my life," he added.

Mark Acklom, aka so many other names, is now one of the most wanted men in Europe after being named in a new appeal launched by the National Crime Agency and Crimestoppers to catch the ten most wanted British fugitives believed to be in Spain.

Perhaps it was a fate his classmate could have predicted.

Hamish Bett, who was in Acklom's year at school, told The Argus in 1991: "He started smoking and flashed money around to try and impress everyone but he was still bullied. When we went out for meals he put on a posh accent.

"He told me he could get a job on the stock market, and he used to make calls saying, "Buy three million of this and eight million of that'."

But said fellow classmate Hamish Bett at the time: "We could tell he was making it up because we could hear the dialling tone."