Bogus software pop-ups could cost computer users real money
ORILLIA, ON, March 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is
warning computer users of a relatively new threat to their online
security that fraudulently extorts money and personal information.
The OPP Anti-Rackets Branch says 'ransomware' has been around since 2006
but only surfaced in Canada in late-2011 as well as in Europe and
Australia. This malware is first installed by visiting malicious
websites set up by criminals. The ransomware produces what has been
called a "Police Trojan" or "scareware" because a notice pops up that
appears to come from a law enforcement agency, such as the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service and/or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The message is a false accusation of accessing child pornography or
other file-sharing websites and subsequently tells the consumer that
$100 needs to be paid via money transfer or credit card to unlock the
computer. When the victim submits their payment details, the criminals
then steal and use personal information.
In 2012, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received 1,690 reports from Canadian consumers who have reported
receiving the ransomware pop‐up message. Of those, 70 victims were
identified as having lost a total of more than $7,200 - roughly $103
per victim. Some of the complaints indicate the complainant was surfing
Internet pornography sites or viewing free TV online when the message
appeared. Others indicate they had turned on their computers and were
locked out. In some instances, complainants indicated children were
using popular social media sites when the message appeared.
This infection -- known as a 'drive‐by infection' - is easily
distributed tens of thousands of times and relies on the fact that even
if only two per cent fall victim to the scam, it is still a very good
rate of return. It's believed more than 97 per cent of victims are
reluctant to report the crime. Ransomware has also been the subject of a recent large-scale
investigation and the takedown of a criminal organization in Spain,
believed responsible for fraud-related losses of more than
$1.15-million (Can.) annually.
If you suspect you or someone you know has been affected by ransomware,
contact your local police service or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477
FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.
"Criminal organizations relentlessly work to find any way possible as
often as possible to come between unaware people and their money. Your
best defence against becoming a victim is to use common sense and be
very suspicious of such messages."
-- Deputy Commissioner Scott TOD, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime
"Ransomware rips data and personal information needed to fuel further
criminal activities, such as credit card fraud and routing payments to
offshore accounts from the victim's computer. The best way to go is to
stay away from suspicious websites in the first place."
-- Detective Inspector Paul Beesley, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch
Signs that you may have encountered ransomware:
A pop‐up message or banner with a ransom request.
A user cannot usually access anything on the computer beyond the screen.
Sending money outside the traditional or mainstream banking system.
Sending money to "unlock" a computer.
Tips to protect yourself from ransomware:
Never click on a pop-up that claims your computer has a virus.
Update your anti-virus software often and scan your computer for viruses
Don't click on links or attachments in e-mails sent to you by someone
you don't know.
Turn on your browser's pop-up blocking feature.
Never download anti-virus software from a pop-up or link sent to you in
OPP - March is Fraud Prevention Month
MEDIA NOTE: This is the second of five weekly OPP media releases on various
criminal activities as part of Fraud Prevention Month.
SOURCE: Ontario Provincial Police
For further information:
Detective Constable Ted Schendera
OPP Anti-Rackets Branch