Ransomware scam hits region

The RCMP would like to warn the public about a scam affecting many Canadians

  • Jan. 16, 2013 7:00 a.m.

The RCMP would like to warn the public about a scam affecting many Canadians

Kelowna police have received more than 250 complaints and now computer companies are seeing an influx of customers whose machines have been infected.

Other areas of the Interior, including the North Okanagan-Shuswap are also receiving reports of this type of scam.

The RCMP have received reports from residents that they have been ‘locked out’ of their computers and received pop-up messages stating their computers have been frozen by the police for a criminal investigation.

In some cases, the pop-up provides a list of possible offences, while in other cases the pop-up may list a specific offence such as child pornography or illegal music downloading.

The message then tells recipients to pay $100 via a payment service provider so their computers can be unlocked.

These warning messages claim to come from the RCMP or other Canadian government agencies, but they do not and it is important that you do not send money.

These types of messages, commonly known as “ransomware” or “scareware,” are designed to create such shock and anxiety that victims respond by sending money quickly. Your computer will not be unlocked if you pay the money and you will never get your money back. Ransomware is usually installed when you open a malicious email attachment or when you click a malicious link in an email message or instant message, or on a social networking site or other website. Ransomware can even be installed when you visit a malicious website.

If you receive one of these messages, please be aware that it is a scam – these messages are not being issued by the RCMP.

If you’ve been ‘locked out’ of your computer, it’s an indicator that your system may have been infected with malware and you will need to take steps to address the problem. You may require the services of a computer technician to have the malware removed.

If you’ve only received a ransomware  message, do not call the police, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. If you have been a victim of a fraud, meaning that you paid money through the ransomware pop-up, contact your local RCMP detachment.