1,100 computers affected and 36 people in UK scammed by 'Police ransomware'

01 August 2012

Scam website

Officers from the MPS Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) are again 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.

We would advise anyone who has been deceived by such a message and handed over money to report the matter to their card issuer immediately and also report the offence to their local police by dialing "101" or the local non-emergency police number.

Virus/Malware infections where no money has been lost can be logged at www.actionfraud.org.uk/report_fraud

In order to reduce the chances of being infected by this or similar malware, police 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. Sound advice can be found at www.getsafeonline.org