A cybersecurity student has been jailed after defrauding a victim out of around £40,000 in a telephone scam.
The perpetrator, Ramesh Karuturi, a 24-year-old student from Teeside University in Middlesbrough, England, posed as a member of Amazon’s technical support staff.
He told the victim, who was identified by Cleveland Police as being a Scottish resident in her 60s, that her computer had been hacked and he needed to install “anti-virus software” to prevent a cyber-attack.
Instead, the victim installed software that gave Karuturi remote access to her computer.
However, she became suspicious after Karuturi told her to keep the downloaded program running in the background on her computer. Despite switching off and unplugging her computer, when she finished the call and phoned her bank, she found that around £40,000 had been taken out in two sums.
Afterwards, Police from Middlesbrough’s Criminal Investigation Department traced about half the stolen money to a bank account registered to Karuturi.
He was subsequently arrested on June 11th, 2020. He admitted after questioning that he had received the stolen money into his bank account.
According to his statements, he claimed to have been a middleman for other criminals. He withdrew small amounts of money, which he sent to others, effectively allowing his account to be used for illegal purposes. In return, he was allowed to keep 15% of the stolen money.
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Karuturi was charged with three counts of money laundering and one conspiracy to defraud by the Crown Prosecution Service. He pleaded guilty at the end of July this year before being sentenced to six months in prison on September 6th.
“This was a cynical ploy to take a large sum of money from a trusting older lady,” said Police Staff Investigator Ian Brown. “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.
“This case should serve a stark warning that even though much of this activity took place during the Covid lockdown period when the number of such frauds increased, Cleveland Police continued to actively tackle online scams, working to bring perpetrators before the courts and to achieve justice for victims,” he added
According to Cleveland Police, the victim’s bank refunded her stolen money.