Kamloops News

Online scam holds computer users ransom

Image Credit: InfoTel Multimedia

RCMP are warning about a scam in circulation that targets Internet users.

The warning comes after public reports of computer fraud known as 'ransomware' or 'scareware.' Multiple computers were targeted in Kelowna in January with police receiving calls for weeks.

This type of fraud notifies users they have been locked out of their computer followed by a pop-up message saying their computer has been frozen by police.

The pop-up states the incident is related to a police investigation, and sometimes lists possible offences including but not limited to 'child pornography' or 'illegal music downloading.'

A ransom note then appears telling users to pay $100 through an online payment service providers to have their equipment unlocked.

RCMP say these scams are fraudulent and impersonate government agencies. They are reminding residents not to send money.

"These types of messages, commonly known as ransomeware and scareware, are designed to create such shock and anxiety that victims respond by sending money quickly," an RCMP press release issued this week said.

In reports filed to RCMP, users who fell victim to paying the fee did not regain access to their computers.

RCMP are warning that if a computer has been locked, the system may have been infected with malware.

Some tips to prevent malware infection include: never clicking on pop-ups claiming the computer has a virus, keeping anti-virus software and scans current, never clicking on links or attachments in emails received from unknown authors, enabling browser pop-up blocking features, never downloading anti-virus software from a pop-up or link sent through email.

Those threatened by this scam are asked to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Those victim to fraud contact local RCMP.

To contact a reporter for this story, email: jwallace@infotelnews.ca or call (250) 319-7494.


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