Police-bust ransomware heads to Canada

The malware, often activated through malicious links and phishing schemes, freezes the computer and activates a pop-up message using police logos, in this case claiming to be from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or other law enforcement agencies, with messages warning users their computers have been associated with child pornography or illegal music downloading, Then, the message demands a fine be paid immediately.

In Canada, the message tells recipients to pay $100 dollars via Ukash (a payment service provider) so their computers can be "unlocked".

“These types of messages are scams designed to create shock and anxiety so that victims respond by sending money quickly,” the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre noted.

The scam has become fairly widespread, and has popped up in the US and most recently in the UK. This is Canada’s first brush with it though, and authorities are taking steps to educate the public.

“They would never ask for fines to be paid in that way. That’s not how police organizations work,” Acting Sgt. Kathy Macdonald with the Calgary Police Service’s crime prevention unit told the Calgary Herald. Yet, many victims are reluctant to report the incidents because they fear they may be looked at as guilty even if they aren’t.

The CAFC is warning victims not to send money, and to remedy the issue by contacting a computer technician to repair the virus or malware. Also, CAFC is urging victims to report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre so that it can keep an accurate overview of how widespread the issue has become.

The CAFC first noticed the scam in July, but incidences have risen in the past few weeks, with a half-dozen emanating from Lethsbridge. The CAFC has also received 10 reports out of Calgary. The Herald reports that in the most recent case on Oct. 19, the scammers used the name “Cybercrime Investigation Department of Calgary.”

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