AN RAF officer has been jailed for defrauding the Ministry of Defence of tens of thousands of pounds while he was on active service in Afghanistan.

Jason Fletcher passed on fake invoices to his superiors and kept around £92,000 for himself after being tasked with setting up radio stations among Afghani communities.

It took place between 20 July and 7 September 2011 when Fletcher was serving as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, stationed at Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province.

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The officer was part of a support unit whose role was to educate, inform and influence the civilian population, organisations and key figures in the province through one-to-one engagement, literature and radio broadcasts.

At one stage he was given four invoices totalling £35,426 for radio contracts from three privately-owned radio stations serving the Lashkar Gah district.

But instead of providing the correct amount he provided seven fake invoices for the contracts to representatives of the Ministry of Defence totalling £127177.

Fletcher then paid off the original invoices and kept the rest for himself. In total, the fraud was worth £91,751, all of it paid in US dollars.

The Lossiemouth-based officer was caught after returning to the UK at the end of his tour of duty when he began to exchange batches of the cash from dollars for pounds in a wide range of banks and currency exchanges, predominately in the Lossiemouth, Elgin and Inverness area.

Fletcher, who pleaded guilty, carried out a total of 16 currency exchanges, collecting a total of £25,311.

An MoD spokesman said it had a zero tolerance policy towards fraud. He added: "We hope that his sentence serves as a warning to others that fraud within the military will not be tolerated."