A 'money mule' who allowed his bank account to be used by internet fraudsters has walked free from court.

Sarok Mustafa pocketed just over a third of the more than £12,000 conmen had put though his bank account after stealing it by 'phishing'.

But after hearing how he had been used by more sophisticated criminals a judge decided not to jail the 33-year-old Iraqi.

Instead unemployed Mustafa was told to complete 100 hours of community service by a judge at Swindon crown court.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said five bank accounts had been targeted by internet fraudsters who used a technique called phishing to plunder cash from innocent people.

In total Mustafa allowed £12,198 to be moved through his account with him keeping 35 percent of the cash which was more than £4,200.

The money was first transferred to a Pathfinder account which did not have a bank card and could only be accessed directly by Mustafa.

Using the telephone banking system he then transferred the money to a normal account and then spent it in London, mainly converting it into foreign currency at bureaux de change.

Mr Meeke said on the day the money was transferred Mustafa checked the balance on his account nine times between 2.20pm and 11.30pm on Friday December 15, 2006.

When the cash finally arrived in the account he said it was quickly removed with almost £12,000 being straight away.

The following day he went into the branch of the Co-op bank in Swindon and withdrew the final £3,000 which he said the prosecution assumed was his fee.

Mustafa, of Dulverton Avenue, Park North, pleaded guilty to converting criminal property under money laundering laws.

Andrew Hobson, defending, said his client had not spent the money on high living but instead had gone gambling with it and sent some home to his family in Iraq.

He said he had met a friend of a friend who had offered him the chance to make some money if he had a bank account.

After the money was moved he was taken to London and with a man next to him continued to check the account and then withdraw the money.

He said his client, who has no previous convictions, was what is known as a ëmoney muleí by more sophisticated criminals.

Mr Hobson said his client was honest enough to admit that he got 35 percent of the cash but lost much of it the night he got it when the man he was in the capital with suggested they go gambling.

He said his client was now jobless and living on £118 a fortnight Job Seeker's Allowance.

Passing sentence Recorder Ian Pringle QC said "I accept that you were being used and that you have not in the past committed any offences."

The Crown may still seek to recover the cash Mustafa made from the crime and are looking into his finances.