The Nelson Police Department is warning residents after reports of a computer scam that uses malware to freeze your screen and then demands a $100 ransom to unlock it.
“The distinctive factor here is the malware claims to be from a law enforcement agency and Nelson police is not exempt it seems,” says a release issued by the local department.
Police say locking of computers has nothing to do with the Nelson Police Department or any other police agency and can be activated by visiting certain websites or clicking open unknown emails. They warn the scam is a form of extortion.
“With the official looking reference to police and cyber-crime, it could be believable, but paying the $100 does not unlock your computer,” the release continues to say.
Similar scams have been reported in Vancouver and the Okanagan.
If you are a victim of this scam and you have not paid the fee, the scam can be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please report to the Nelson police if you have paid the online fee as this becomes a fraud.
Police advise computer users to take basic steps to protect themselves. These steps include having a proper firewall installed on your computer, having an up-to-date antivirus program loaded onto your computer, and not to open anything from an unknown, not trusted online source.