Edmonton police public warning about an on-going computer scam ‘ransomware’

The Edmonton Police Service is warning the public about an on-going computer scam known as ransomware.

Ransomware is essentially a threat to your computer unless you pay an external company.

Several reports have been received by the EPS where computer users are claiming they are receiving pop-up messages asking for immediate payment otherwise they would be “locked out” of their computers.

It has been reported that these pop-up warning messages are claiming to come from a Canadian police or government agency. The message tells computer users to pay $100 via Ukash (a payment service provider) so that their computers can be “unlocked.”

“Often these pop-up messages appear after a user attempts to download something off the internet,” says Staff Sgt. Dan Service with Economic Crimes Section. “The download activates “malware” or a type of virus which creates a pop-up message asking for payment.”

Ransomware scams are designed to create shock and anxiety so computer users respond by sending money quickly to prevent being locked out of their computer.

If you receive one of these messages, please be aware that:

– the ransomware is an attempt to defraud you.

– sending money will not fix your computer – it will remain locked. DO NOT SEND MONEY.

– neither police nor any Canadian government agency would hijack computers in order to obtain money.

– the ransomware is hard evidence that your computer has been infected by malicious software (malware) that must be dealt with.

The recommended way to re-gain access to your computer is to seek the help of a computer technician who can remove the malware.

To protect against cyber attacks, it is recommended to update your software regularly. You should have up-to-date anti-virus, spyware and firewall protection.

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