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Ransomware scam says it's from OPP

Monday, December 23, 2013   by: Staff


Members of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti Rackets Branch are warning computer users of a variation on so-called ‘ransomware’ that is hitting close to home.

‘Ransomware’ is a fraudulent threat to online security has been around since 2006 but only surfaced in Canada in late-2011.

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.

Two recent complaints indicate the well-known O.P.P. shoulder flash – the logo seen on the uniforms of provincial police officers – is on the pop-up to amplify the perceived threat and come between unaware people and their money.

The message is a false accusation of accessing child pornography or other file-sharing websites and subsequently tells the consumer that a fee 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, fuelling further criminal activities.

In 2013, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) received 2828 reports from Canadian consumers who have reported receiving the ransomware pop‐up message.

Of those, 129 victims were identified as having lost a total of more than $15,800.00 – roughly $122.50 per victim.

In some instances, complainants indicated children were using popular social media sites when the ransomware message appeared while others saw the pop-up threat while viewing free TV online.

This 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.

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 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 suspect you or someone you know has been affected by ransomware, contact your local police service, theCanadian Anti-Fraud Centre, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

FRAUD - Recognize it - Report it - Stop it.


“I find it very concerning and that the criminal use of the OPP logo requires investigation. Always use common sense and be very suspicious of ransomware 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


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Working Man 12/23/2013 6:34:18 PM Report

I had that once a couple of years ago! It said that it was from the Ontario Crime Investigation Unit and that my computer has been locked for accessing child porn(Trust me, I did NOT!)!!!

I figured it was some virus, so I just restarted my computer, backed up some of my documents and formatted my computer and I was fine.

crashed13 12/24/2013 10:02:48 AM Report

I don't know who to be more astonished at, the criminals doing it or the people who would fall for something like that.

Pay to unlock your computer?
bulletcards 12/27/2013 12:17:37 PM Report

this had happened to me before. it's pretty easy and simple to get rid of. I don't understand how/why anyone would fall for this scam. people shoud be forced to take a computer/technology class before they are allowed to purchase.
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