A BOOKKEEPER pocketed thousands of pounds after promising to return a tax rebate to his client, a court heard.
Christopher Savage charged £150 to do a self-employed contractor's tax return and processed the cash through his own account.
'It was anticipated a tax rebate would be received and that would be through the defendant's account,' prosecutor Graham Heath said.
'Thereafter it was decided that the monies would be passed on to (the victim), less the £150 for the fee.'
On April 27 the victim got word from HMRC the money had been paid - but was also warned to contact police about Savage.
That was because debt-laden Savage, of Morgan Road, Milton, had already been given a conditional caution for a £4,587 similar fraud.
Dad-of-three Savage, who was in £40,000 worth of debt, was ordered to pay back that cash and has until January 7 to do so.
Tim Sparkes, for Savage, said the defendant had been expecting to get a £4,000 pension from a company that went bust in April.
He used the money from the fraud instead but insists he can pay it back when probate comes in from his father's home.
Mr Sparkes said: 'It was an exercise that had little or no prospect of success.'
Portsmouth magistrates heard Savage had not paid council tax for two years.
Magistrates said his case did not warrant a jail term as he had suffered a mini-stroke, pleaded guilty to fraud and looked after three children.
Savage must pay £2,268.58 compensation on top of the money he is already paying back.
He was also fined £900.