Europol has issued a warning to computer users about the police “ransomware” malware scam that seeks to defraud people of money through the payment of “fines”.
When a person’s computer is infected by the police ransomware malware, the machine seizes up and a warning window is displayed on the screen that reads that the victim’s IP address was identified as having been used for illegal activities such as downloading copyrighted material.
To unlock the computer, the victim is instructed to pay a “fine” using various online money services. Despite payment being made the computer will not be unlocked until it is successfully disinfected, Europol said.
A new variant of this computer-based scam, which primarily targets computers in the EU using geo-location, involves the misuse of Europol’s logo in an attempt to deceive the victims and get them to transfer money.
“Should you be targeted by this police ransomware malware do not transfer any money. Europol, nor another EU Law enforcement agency or police force, collects fines as penalties in this manner. All such demands are fraudulent,” Europol said.
If you have already been deceived in paying money, a report should be made to your local police agency. Enclose a photograph or a screen shot of your computer’s screen and try to facilitate as much information as possible such as the payment method, the code of the voucher used to pay the fine, the activity that you were doing on your computer when the lock window appeared and the date and time when this happened.
To make sure that you do not “get held to ransom”, take a look at this special information sheet produced by the experts in the Europol Cyber Crime Centre.