Scams and Fraud! (First Hand Experience)
As we go on with our daily life and as more people are having access to Internet or use of cyberspace as an extraordinary communication and information medium, we are getting involved to certain risks. Just this weekend, I experienced a Scam and Fraud which I want to share. It is not a direct affiliate marketing scam but it is worth knowing in order to Know How to Avoid or Respond as you could also experience. Today, almost any “traditional” crime can be committed with the help of technology. When you connect to another computer, not only do you receive information, but you also transmit datas.
Scams and Fraud comes in Various Forms such as identity theft and fraud, payment card fraud, e-mail fraud/phishing, mass marketing (telemarketing), internet-related fraud, investment and securities, counterfeit and others. We may be aware of the ways of avoiding a scam, precautions and actions to avoid viruses, malwares, etc. yet we could still be vulnerable. This is my actual first hand experience of a malware / “scareware” scam.
I was actually on my computer using the internet and doing multi-tasking work. As my usual practice, I have a lot of open window applications in my MFirefox browser. MS Word is open together with Yahoo Mail, WA, FB pages, Linkedin, Google search on various topic such as travel, work topic, etc. So basically, I was doing simply general net surfing. All of a sudden, pop-ups are coming out mostly pornographic content. As you try to close a window it is being replaced by 2 more tabs. While still trying to close windows the more pops-up was coming out and closing the whole browser doesn't work. Then a webpage from the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) appears with all the logo, images and emblem of the institution. It looks legit as it also shows your exact location and an IP address in blue and bold letters. This stats gives a strong impression that everything is authentic.
Then a pop-up message appeared in “red blinking” words warning that the computer is being frozen or has been “locked out” by RCMP Internet Investigation as you have been associated with pornography. These warning message is telling to pay $100.00 via Ukash (seems like a paypal) so that the computer can be “unlocked”. There is also a waring that if you do not pay the $100.00 fine within 96 hours criminal proceedings will commence. With the fast turn of events I was a bit taken off-guard but composed. I was really annoyed and of course alarmed. My instinct responded properly as I didn't entertain on paying but tried to close again the open tabs. Still more pop-ups appeared but it's good as the forced shutdown of the computer worked. As I restored "on", the computer pop-ups were already gone and things went normal.
Further Research / Investigation
Thinking of the what happened and with the warning saying that a criminal proceedings will commence in 94 hours when you don't pay the $100 (as if fine) I tried to research and google. In my search it was coming out that there were a lot of similar cases like this and has been recorded as a Scam and Fraud. These types of messages, commonly known as “scareware” are designed to create such shock and anxiety that victims respond by sending money quickly. Other variations include request payment by $100 Esso prepaid card. Past victims indicated that after input of the first card it will again ask for additional $100 pay. That is the time victims contacted the police. RCMP advice not to pay the $100. If you have been locked out of your computer, it’s an indicator that your system may have been infected with malware and you will need to take steps to address the problem.
Records show that this computer scam came out since last year and it is again getting active this days. The malware is thought to have originated in Eastern Europe. While this happened in Canada it could happen in any part of the world. As recommended, I have to check my antivirus and scan my computer and always follow all the precautionary measures to avoid future events. Reporting the case to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is definitley necessary.
Tips to Help Keep Your Computer Protected:
- Never click on a pop-up that claims your computer has a virus
- Update your anti-virus software often and scan your computer for viruses regularly
- Don’t click on links or attachments in e-mails sent to you by someone you don’t know
- Turn on your browser’s pop-up blocking feature
- Never download anti-virus software from a pop-up link sent to you in an e-mail
- Lots more . . .
A Similar RCMP Report / Story below:
“New fake-RCMP computer scam fools Canadians”