Three Arrested in UK Over Ransomware Attacks

The UK’s Police Central e-Crime Unit has arrested two men and one woman in connection with a recent ransomware campaign.

“A 34-year-old man and 30-year-old woman from Stoke on Trent have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and possession of items for use in fraud,” writes Naked Security’s Graham Cluley. “Additionally, a 26-year-old man also from Stoke on Trent was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. All three are currently in custody at a Staffordshire police station.”

“The PCeU investigation centred on a gang using ransomware that allowed them to display what appeared to be an official notice from it or the Metropolitan police on a victim’s PC,” writes Computeractive’s Dinah Greek. “This splash page warned that the police had been monitoring illegal online activity by the computer user. The victim is told that in order to unlock their PC they should pay a fine, often of around £100 via a money transfer system or pre-paid money card services, such as Ukash.”

“The arrests [show] we are determined to combat this type of crime,” Detective Inspector Jason Tunn said in a statement. “I remind all computer users that police do not use such a method to impose or enforce fines, so if you are confronted by such a page do not enter any of your details. Call police on 101.”

“Cybercriminals in the US are also adopting this tactic, using the FBI’s logo to trick and then defraud computer users,” writes Computer Weekly’s Warwick Ashford. “‘With more people waking up to the realities of spear phishing and other methods of attack on their data — ransomware is looking like the next logical step in social engineering,’ said Paul Davis, director of Europe at security firm FireEye.”

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and an eSecurity Planet contributor since 2009.

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