A CYBER-security student has been jailed for five months for his role in scamming a pensioner out of almost £40,000.

Ramesh Karuturi allowed the fraudsters to put £19,800 through his bank account for a 15 percent cut of the cash – worth up to £3,000.

The 24-year-old Teesside University student withdrew the money almost as soon as it had landed his account in January last year.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the victim was scammed by someone claiming to work for Amazon and telling her that her account had been compromised and he needed control of her computer to prevent a cyber-attack.

Jon Harley, prosecuting, said an unknown caller claiming to be from Amazon’s Technical Support team persuaded the woman to leave her computer unattended for several hours before she became suspicious about events and contacted the fraud department of her bank.

Mark Styles, in mitigation, said Karuturi didn't make any money from the scam as he was arrested quickly after the fraud had taken place.

Karuturi, formerly of Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to one charge of transferring criminal property.

The court heard how the defendant's student visa had been revoked after he was kicked out of Teesside University and faces deportation after his release.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she had been left stressed, anxious and worrying about the thought of losing £40,000 of her savings.

Judge Timothy Stead jailed Karuturi for five months after his guilty plea.

He said: "You allowed your bank account to be used and you did that expecting a reward – worth nearly £3,000."

Speaking after the hearing, Police Staff Investigator Ian Brown who co-ordinated our inquiries said: “This was a cynical ploy to take a large sum of money from a trusting older lady.

“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.

“I share the victim’s relief that her bank refunded her when it became clear she’d become victim of a scam.

“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."

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