Dressed in a smart suit and tie, a flustered Andrew Gradon pleaded for help to get home.

Stranded at an airport, he explained that he had just missed his flight but just 40 ($59) would be enough to change his ticket and get him back to Newcastle to see his wife and children before bedtime.

Apologising profusely, he said he needed the cash because his credit card didn't seem to be working. He provided a phone number, address and email details and a promise to repay the money on arriving home. But everything the Briton told passengers was a lie. He was operating a simple scam - one earning him up to 15,000 ($30,000) a month.

Last week, the law finally caught up with him. A court in Munich jailed Gradon, 42, nicknamed "The Airportman", for 10 months for fraud and banned him from entering Germany for three years.

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His victims were usually businessmen or women who appeared wealthy.

He operated in several countries, flitting most frequently between Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Poland and the Czech Republic. Passengers were ripped off in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Prague, Cologne, Bremen, Lyon, Sicily, Milan, Barcelona and Munich.

Five years ago, Gradon picked on a Swede in Frankfurt. Tommy Forsell grabbed the conman's passport, took a photo on his phone of the identity page and distributed it on internet forums. Gradon carried on scamming until January this year when one victim found Gradon's details on the web. She complained to Munich police and two days later Gradon was caught.