Computer Fraud Warning – 'Ransomware' and 'Scareware'
The RCMP have received reports from residents that they have been 'locked out' of their computer and received pop-up message stating that their computer has 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.
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.
For more information about this scam, go to the "Extortion scams" page on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.
Tips to protect yourself:
- 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 regularly
- 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 an e-mail
- If you’ve received a ransomware / scareware message, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it. If you have been a victim of a fraud, please contact your local RCMP Detachment or police force of jurisdiction.
Fraud: Recognize it. Report it. Stop it.
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