Police Hunt Is On For Ransomware Scam Affecting 1,100 Systems

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Ransomware pushers are pretending to be the PCeU to strip people of their funds

Cyber criminals have managed to infect over 1,100 systems with ransomware that attempts to extort money from people by impersonating the Met’s Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU).

In the UK, 36 have been duped into handing over £100 each, after they were infected with malware that locked people out of their machines until they paid a fine to the fake PCeU.

Cyber scammers

“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,” the PCeU warned.

“Genuine law enforcement agencies would never contact members of the public via this method and demand funds in this way.

“We would advise anyone who has been deceived by such a message and handed over money to report the matter to their card issuer immediately and also report the offence to their local police by dialing “101” or the local non-emergency police number.”

It appeared that people have become infected by drive-by attacks, visiting websites that cause malicious code to run on their machines, without them having to click on anything.

“Enquiries continue to trace those responsible for the scam. There have been no arrests at present,” the PCeU added.

The PCeU recently told TechWeekEurope it was punching above its weight, but would not say whether it would like more funds to help fight cyber crime. The division is to receive a total of £30 million of the £650 million pot the government announced in 2010 for taking on cyber criminals.

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