The Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) are warning the public of a computer scam which attempts to extort money from unsuspecting members of the public by impersonating the e-crime Unit.
Police have received 1,100 reports from the public of the malware affecting their computers. 36 people in the UK have paid money, each losing £100.
Enquiries continue to trace those responsible for the scam. There have been no arrests at present.
The malicious software infects personal computers after users have accessed certain websites. The virus causes the PC to freeze and lock, with a message purporting to be from the e-crime Unit advising the user they are required to pay a fine to unlock the computer.
This is a fraud and users are advised NOT to pay out any monies or hand out any bank details. This scam is now affecting many countries in Europe and further afield, with each email tailored to include the branding of that country's law enforcement agency. Europol are coordinating with Europe's law enforcement agencies on this matter.
Genuine law enforcement agencies would never contact members of the public via this method 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.