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Falls police warn residents about 'ransomware' online scam

Dec. 4, 2012

The Menomonee Falls Police Department is warning residents about a new cyber scam that poses as a criminal complaint center, freezes someone's computer and requires payment for it to be unlocked.

The latest version of the ransomware uses the name of "Internet Crime Complaint Center" to frighten victims into sending money to the perpetrators, according to the Police Department. This version of the malware also claims that the user's computer activity is being recorded using audio, video and other devices.

The cyber-scam lures victims to a drive-by download website, at which time the ransomware is installed on the user's computer. Once installed, the computer freezes and a screen is displayed warning the user they have violated United States Federal Law. The message further declares that a law enforcement agency has determined that a computer using the victim's IP address has accessed child pornography and other illegal content, according to the Police Department's news release.

To unlock the computer from being frozen, the user is instructed to pay a fine using prepaid money card services. The geographic location of the user's PC determines what payment services are offered. The malware then continues to operate on the compromised computer and can be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud.

For information about this scam or to report Internet abuse, contact the Menomonee Falls Police Department by calling (262) 532-8700.

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