ActionFraud - National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre - Call 0300 123 2040

Alert: Public to be on guard against new ‘ransomware’ scam

A new ransomware scam has been uncovered that uses the branding of Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to dupe people into paying to have their computer unlocked.

Action Fraud ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malware that attacks your computer, locking you out and demanding payment in the form of a ‘fine’ to have it unlocked. A previous version was known to impersonate originating from the Metropolitan Police. The current version has been observed to impersonate Action Fraud and the NFIB.

Victims are urged to pay an upfront fee using a UKash voucher, or a paysafecard to have their computer ‘unlocked’. These firms are legitimate and are not involved in this ransomware scam.

The attack uses strong language suggesting that Action Fraud and the NFIB are holding the computer to ransom due to the computer’s IP address being linked to websites containing pornography and child abuse.

Receiving this message is not an indication that the computer has been used to view adult or explicit material on the internet.

The text further alleges that spam messages with terrorist motives were also sent from the computer, and the computer lock is intended to stop further illegal activity.

This is a scam. Do not transfer any money or purchase vouchers. Action Fraud and the NFIB would never contact members of the public and demand funds in this way.

If you have been a victim of a ‘ransomware’ attack such as this, our advice is:

  • You should restart your PC. This has been known to delete the message.
  • Action Fraud strongly recommend that anti-virus software is both used and (importantly) routinely updated to keep pace with new threats as they are discovered. In addition, operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS routinely issue updates that patch potential vulnerabilities.
  • Report the ‘ransomware’ attack to Action Fraud.
  • To protect against fraud in the future, never reveal Ukash vouchers or voucher codes, or Paysafecard PINs (in full or in part) by e-mail or over the telephone, and it is advised that vouchers or PINs are only used at participating Ukash or Paysafecard merchants.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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