AN Eat Out to Help Out fraudster in jail for attempting to fleece the taxpayer out of £434,000 has been ordered to pay back his £109,939 ill-gotten gains. 

Mohammed Ikram was locked up at Bradford Crown Court for two and a half years in March in the first conviction of Covid scheme fraud by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. 

Ikram, 36, of Winterburn Street, Keighley, was today brought back to the court for a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act. 

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: How the T&A reported the case at the timeHow the T&A reported the case at the time (Image: Newsquest)

Recorder Tahir Khan KC heard that he had just three weeks left to serve in prison. 

An agreed confiscation order was made in the sum of £109,939.64. 

The court heard that Ikram’s available assets were £60,000 under restraint in a bank account and just over £86,000 equity in a property in Keighley, totalling more than he owed. 

Recorder Khan said that Ikram must pay the agreed sum within three months or face a 12-month prison sentence in default. 

Ikram, a former Keighley Town Councillor, pleaded guilty to 20 offences of cheating the Public Revenue by submitting false online Eat Out to Help Out claims between August 8, 2020, and September 6, 2020. 

During a four-week period, he put forward 19 fraudulent claims totalling just over £434,073 relating to eight different food outlets, most entirely fictitious. Eight of his claims, totalling £189,208, were paid out, the remaining 11 were rejected. 

The Revenue froze bank accounts and seized back £96,000, leaving £92,862 outstanding. 

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was launched during the Covid pandemic to help the hospitality industry as people were beginning to go out and about again. 

Ikram’s barrister, Nick Worsley, said he had previously worked in a café in Keighley and was part of a group providing help and support to struggling families in the pandemic. 

He had run up debts of £35,000 from running a care home in Manchester and saw this as a way out of his difficulties. 

He was a man of previous good character who had contributed to the community in a positive way.  

Jailing him in March, Deputy Circuit Judge Timothy Clayson said the claims were fraudulent from the outset and motivated by greed. 

Ikram had also cast suspicion on his wife by putting the money into her bank accounts.