A 33-year-old Sri-Lankan forecourt cashier has been jailed for his part in a £175,000 worldwide bank-card scam.

Abdul Samad Raik cloned over 500 cards of customers at a Houghton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire filling station, because he was being threatened by the Tamil Tigers guerilla warfare group, Leicester Crown Court was told. The cards were used to obtain goods and cash as far away as Australia, Malaysia and America.

Raik had been a trusted and well-liked cashier at the Jet station for 13 months, with garage owner Jim Funnell being ’completely unaware’ of any problems until last December, when customer after customer contacted him to say their cards had been used abroad illegally.

Funnell then delivered letters to every household in the village apologising for the scam. Villagers sent cards and letters pledging their support for him.

Raik was jailed for two years and nine months after pleading guilty to the fraud, between last October and December. He also admitted possessing a false Indian passport.

He was caught on CCTV swiping customers’ cards through a cloning machine as they paid for their petrol. He fled his job in December, but gave himself up to police three months later.

He said he owed £3,000 to somebody connected to the Tamil Tigers. He then came under threat from the group after he failed to repay the money following the birth of his daughter. He said he was forced to dishonestly clone the cards to pay off the debt. He used a cloning machine given to him by the guerilla group.

Court recorder Duncan Smith told Raik, whose immigration status is under review: "It was a gross breach of trust to your employer, who is a businessman relying on the good faith of his staff and on the custom his customers bring him. One doesn’t know how badly his business will be affected or if some people will choose to go elsewhere for their petrol. It was a huge fraud and your involvement in it was brought to an end by yourself after a relatively short period of time."