The money was then transferred back into Iqbal's bank account
Zara Iqbal, aged 23, of Girlington, Bradford, was sentenced on Monday, March 25, 2019, at Bradford Crown Court, for scamming £38,000 from the Argos store she worked at.
She pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud at Bradford Magistrates’ Court in early March 2019.
It was heard that the Argos worker conned the Forster Square branch of the store in order to help her then-boyfriend.
Iqbal’s fraudulent activities took place between December 2016 and March 2018.
Adam Walker, prosecuting, said that the issue came to light in 2018 when it was found that Iqbal had been making fraudulent refunds to several members of her friends and family.
The money was then transferred back into Iqbal’s bank account which totalled just over £38,000. Store security staff and police officers carried out an extensive investigation.
Mr Walker explained that Iqbal immediately confessed when she was interviewed by police. She was adamant her family and friends were unaware of the fraud.
She told police that her boyfriend was in trouble and that was her motivation behind the crime.
She never spent the money and even sent a letter of apology and a cheque in full compensation for the fraud to her workplace in 2019.
Jessica Heggie, defending Iqbal, explained that the money was not used for a lavish lifestyle.
Instead, she was pressured by her ex-partner to help him with the debts he had amassed from a drug habit. Ms Heggie also pointed out that Iqbal is a primary carer for her father.
The court heard that Iqbal was studying a postgraduate diploma to become a physician’s associate.
His Honour Judge Jonathan Rose told Iqbal that involving her family and friends was a “particularly serious” aspect of the case.
He said that they were not willing participants and were exposed to prosecution and prison sentences.
He also said that her immaturity was significant to the case. He explained that she was under the “malignant influence” of another and she did not have the “maturity or strength of character” to resist the pressure on her.
Judge Rose told a shaken Iqbal: “You were at the time a person who was susceptible to undue pressure.
“You thought you were doing the right thing to help him. You were, of course, horribly wrong.”
Zara Iqbal received a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. She was also ordered to carry out 25 days of rehabilitation requirement and 240 hours of unpaid community work.