A 39-year-old man has been jailed for his part in a scam worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, which made computer users think their machines had been infected with a virus.
Baljinder Singh was recruited by fraudsters in India who pretended to be linked to Microsoft, and persuaded people to allow remote access to their computers.
The group based in Delhi then gained control of the machines, demanding payments to clean them up and installing malicious software enabling them to steal even more.
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The scam was uncovered by police with the help of a potential victim, Damian Morrison, who went along with the fraudsters, making them believe he had been conned while he recorded evidence.
The judge at Newcastle Crown Court awarded him £250 for his public-spirited work, which involved putting a warning on YouTube about the fraud.
Mr Singh, a married father-of-two from South Shields, admitted transferring criminal property and was jailed for two years and four months.
James Gelsthorpe, prosecuting, said one victim was using his computer when it went blank and a voice came over the speaker telling him his account had been hacked.
He was instructed to ring an 0800 number and when he did he was told there was a fault with his computer which could be fixed for £70, which he paid. When he later checked his account, he found a payment of £2,700 had been taken.
Mr Gelsthorpe added that many of the victims were older computer users who were "vulnerable to a degree".
Mr Singh's role was to operate UK bank accounts and send money to India, and he did not speak to victims of the con, the court heard.