A FRAUDSTER admitted his attempts to buy luxury items with cheques he knew would bounce were “acts of stupidity”.

Joseph Mason, of Bermuda Close, Popley, Basingstoke, used the unsophisticated scam to steal £2,200 worth of goods such as sunglasses, jackets and gold bracelets, between June and October last year.

Among the stores targeted were Hartley Antiques, in Hartley Wintney, Wickes, in Churchill Way West, Basing-stoke, and the Chineham Centre Opticians.

Edward Phillips, prosecuting at Winchester Crown Court, said: “The circumstances are really very straightforward.

“He has approached various retail outlets with a chequebook. He would issue a cheque which he knew would ultimately bounce because he had told the bank that he had lost it.”

Mr Phillips added that Mason had a history of dishonesty offences, including burglary and attempting to obtain property by deception.

Mason, 26, was in the dock having admitted six counts of fraud at a previous hearing.

Amer Asghar, defending, said not all of the items had been returned and Mason did not have the cash to repay the affected retailers.

He said: “These are acts of stupidity, in his own words.

“He is someone who is incredibly ashamed and remorseful. He is someone who struggles with budgeting and managing money.”

Judge Keith Cutler said: “I think you can live an honest life, and you really have to, because people will give up on you and lock you away for longer and longer.”

He gave Mason an eight-month sentence, suspended for 12 months, with 120 hours of unpaid work.