Fraud Centre warns of phone-based computer scam

Technology users who find themselves locked out of their computers shouldn’t be surprised to receive a helpful phone message from the RCMP.

  • Aug. 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.

PARKSVILLE — Technology users who find themselves suddenly locked out of their computers shouldn’t be surprised to receive a helpful phone message from the RCMP about how to fix the problem.

The problem is, the message doesn’t really come from the RCMP and the so-called fix comes at a price.

The Canadian Anti Fraud Centre and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Technological Crime Branch have been receiving reports from Canadians who say their computers are being frozen or they have been “locked out” of their computers. This happens primarily after complainants receive pop-up messages warning them their computers have been associated with child pornography and illegal music downloading. These warning messages, which claim to come from the RCMP or other Canadian government agencies, tell recipients to pay so their computers can be “unlocked.”

These types of messages, known as ransomware, are scams designed to create shock and anxiety so that victims respond by sending money quickly.

Neither the RCMP nor any other Canadian government agency would hijack computers in order to obtain money.

If you receive a ransomware message, contact your local police force and the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/

— Submitted by RCMP