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Metropolitan Police ransomware pretender ensnares 1,100 computers

01 Aug 2012
police

The Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) has uncovered a ransomware scam attempting to extort money from unsuspecting members of the public by impersonating it.

The PCeU warned that the malware has already managed to infect 1,100 computers and has managed to illegally steal money from 36 victims.

"The malicious software personal computers after users have accessed certain websites. The virus causes the PC to freeze and lock, with a message purporting to be from the e-Crime Unit advising the user they are required to pay a fine to unlock the computer," the PCeU warned.

"This is a fraud and users are advised not to pay out any monies or hand out any bank details. Genuine law enforcement agencies would never contact members of the public via this method and demand funds in this way."

The scam is one of many ransomware campaigns masquerading as a law enforcement agency. In June F-Secure security chief Mikko Hypponen highlighted ransomware as a key cyber crime growth area during a tour of the company's labs.

Scams pretending to be the FBI, CIA and German law enforcement were all shown during the tour. The PCeU promised that it was working with Interpol and a number of other European law enforcement agencies to help fight the flood of new ransomware scams.

"This scam is now affecting many countries in Europe and further afield, with each email tailored to include the branding of that country's law enforcement agency. Europol are coordinating with Europe's law enforcement agencies on this matter," added the PCeU's statement.

The PCeU has confirmed that no arrests have currently been made and the origin of the scam remains unknown.

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

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