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Hobbit helmsman Jackson hit by $190K credit card scam

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Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson was the target of a US$190,000 (£120,000) credit card fraud that sought to bail out a struggling business.

The recently-knighted Hobbit helmsman used his American Express card to buy items from the Michigan Toy Soldier Company, which specialises in the sale of historical miniatures. Richard Berry, owner of the company, used the details to cut fraudulent invoices in order to keep his struggling business afloat, a US court has heard, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Berry, who admits fraud, faces a maximum sentence of 18 months behind bars.

Berry's lawyer, David Steingold, told the court: "He needed inventory and used the credit card, and hoped to repay the money when sales picked up."

"Things got out of hand because the economy didn't turn around," he added.

Sir Peter was not left out of pocket as a result of the scam.

Berry, who has already paid Am Ex half the money he owes and has promised to find some way to repay the rest, faces sentencing on 7 February.

Meanwhile Jackson, 49, was rushed to hospital in Wellington, New Zealand, for surgery on a perforated ulcer earlier this week. The already long-delayed start of filming for The Hobbit was pushed back a further month as a result of Jackson's illness. ®

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