Teesside University student studying cyber security posed as Amazon tech support to con woman

Credit: PA

A Teesside University student studying cyber security has been jailed for a scam which left an elderly woman £40,000 out of pocket.

Cleveland Police said the woman in her 60s was contacted by someone claiming to be from Amazon's technical support team.

The man reportedly told the victim, who was living in Scotland, that her account had been hacked and convinced her to install “protective anti-virus software” which allowed remote access to her computer.

She grew suspicious as he told her to leave the programme running in the background of her computer and she eventually hung up the call and unplugged her computer. 

When she contacted her bank she discovered that nearly £40,000 had been taken from her account in two transactions.

Middlesbrough CID discovered that of the stolen funds, £19,800 was traced to an account in the name of Ramesh Karuturi, 24, a cyber security student studying at Teesside University.

Cleveland Police arrested Karuturi on 11 June 2020 and he admitted receiving stolen funds into his account before withdrawing it in smaller denominations and sending it on to other parties.

Following CPS advice, he was charged that night with conspiracy to defraud and three counts of money laundering and was remanded to appear at Teesside Magistrates’ Court the next day.

Karuturi, whose last address was Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough, was bailed by magistrates with conditions and his case was heard at court in late July this year - where he pleaded guilty.

A Teesside Crown Court on Monday, 6 September, he was sentenced to five months in prison.

Police Staff Investigator Ian Brown co-ordinated inquiries.

He added: “Money was removed from the victim’s account within 24 hours and Karuturi admitted he and an associate then visited various moneygram/foreign exchange centres across the country to try to avoid suspicion, with much of the cash being sent overseas.“

Cleveland Police said the victim's bank refunded the stolen funds.

PSI Brown added that he hoped the case would serve as a warning to others that the force continued to tackle online scams.