Three arrests over 'Police Ransomware"

12 December 2012

Get Safe Online

Detectives from the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) investigating cyber criminals who use "ransomware" have arrested three people.

Ransomware is malicious software that is inadvertently downloaded and infects the victim's computer.

It dupes computer users into believing they are subject to a police enquiry in an attempt to extort money from them.

Once infected, the computer suddenly stops working and a holding screen, known as a "splash page", is displayed. The splash page features police logos usually including that of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) or the PCeU and purports to be an official notice from these organisations.

It states that the victim's online activities have been monitored by police and that they have been identified as committing offences online. They are instructed to pay a fine - usually £100 by electronic payment - in order for their computer to operate again.

PCeU officers based at the MPS and North West hubs, assisted by colleagues from Staffordshire Police, searched three addresses on 11 December.

They arrested a 34-year-old man and 30-year-old woman from Stoke on Trent on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and possession of items for use in fraud. They arrested a 26-year-old man [C] also from Stoke on Trent on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. All three are currently in custody at a Staffordshire police station.

Detective Inspector Jason Tunn, from the PCeU, said: "The arrests shows we are determined to combat this type of crime. I remind all computer users that police do not use such a method to impose or enforce fines, so if you are confronted by such a page do not enter any of your details. Call police on 101."