A BRADFORD bank employee has been jailed for 14 months for a £17,783 scam to fraudulently order computer parts and sell them on the internet.

Alkesh Patel abused the system to make around 187 dishonest purchases over 12 months to pay off his debts and help his family out of financial difficulty, Bradford Crown Court heard today.

Patel, 31, of Hartington Terrace, Great Horton, Bradford, would have continued to rip off Lloyds Bank if he hadn’t been caught by pure chance, Judge Jonathan Rose said.

Patel worked in the deeds, mortgages and services department at the bank’s Halifax head office in Trinity Road, prosecutor Paul Nicholson said.

He was authorised to order equipment for the bank to a value of £250 but when he legitimately bought an item that cost far more, he realised that no one was checking up on him.

When Patel’s family began struggling financially after his father became too ill to work, he exploited the system, the court heard.

He ordered a large number of electronic and computer items to sell on the internet.

Patel was caught when a parcel arrived that had been tampered with while he was on holiday.

Security staff found that it contained Microsoft computer equipment that would not normally be needed by the bank. An audit trail turned up the other purchases, all done in Patel’s name.

He was suspended from his job and immediately made full admissions to the police. He went on to plead guilty to fraud by false representation.

Patel knew when the security officers worked and he signed for the packages himself, usually ordering an item a week, Mr Nicholson said.

It was a high culpability offence over a sustained period.

Patel’s barrister, Emma Downing, said it was an unsophisticated fraud. He made no attempt to conceal his identity and the audit trail led straight to him.

Patel was helping out his family after his father developed serious back trouble. His thinking became “distracted and desperate.”

He had acknowledged his actions, meaning that no one else was ever implicated.

Patel was deeply ashamed and genuinely remorseful.

He was a man of previous good character and he had given the bank back his pension money to make recompense.

The probation office said he was at a low risk of reoffending.

“This is the first and last time that Mr Patel will appear for sentence as a defendant,” Miss Downing said.

Judge Rose said Patel should have sought professional help for his financial problems.

“You are a man of ability and intelligence who has taken an entirely criminal route,’ he said.

“It was pure luck that you got caught. You were going to get away with this because there was no system in place to make checks. The fraud would have continued if you hadn’t been caught by accident.”

A Proceeds of Crime Application hearing to claw back the money will be held next year.