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The UK's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) this week stated that UK police had received 1,100 reports from the public complaining of malware that attempts to extort money by impersonating the PCeU.
"The malicious software infects personal computers after users have accessed certain websites," the statement reads. "The virus causes the PC to freeze and lock, with a message purporting to be from the e-crime Unit advising the user they are required to pay a fine to unlock the computer. This is a fraud and users are advised NOT to pay out any monies or hand out any bank details. 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."
"Ransom attacks using threats that pose as the PCeU and other European police forces in order to issue fine threats have become common in the last two years but it is still unusual for any hard numbers on infection rates or victim numbers to come to light," writes Techworld's John E. Dunn. "The latest unidentified attack had infected 1,100 computers in the UK, successfully conning 36 people into paying £100 ($150) to the criminals, police said. The true numbers will be much larger because official reports only show a snapshot of what is happening."