A new internet scam has wormed its way into Canadian computers, including northern B.C.
Victims of the scam find they are locked out of their computers and receive a pop-up message indicating their computers were frozen by police as part of a criminal investigation, RCMP Media Liason Officer Cpl. Craig Douglass explained in a press release.
Known as ‘Ransomware” or ‘Scareware”, Douglass said sometimes the pop-up window includes possible offence, or in other cases lists specific offences such as child pornography.
The pop-up message also directs the computer owner to make a $100 payment via a payment service provider, if they want their computer to 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,” Douglass said.
“Ransomware or Scareware messages 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.”
Douglass advised computer users if they do find they are locked out of their computers to take appropriate steps to address the problem and offered several preventative measures:
• 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 your local RCMP Detachment or police force of jurisdiction and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it.
For more information and tips about scams and frauds affecting Canadians, please go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.