RCMP Warning Public on Ransomware and Sextortion Scams

RCMP Manitoba

Police are continually reminding people not to fall victim to Internet scams.
Police are continually reminding people not to fall victim to Internet scams.

WINNIPEG – This summer a new scam has hit. This new attempt to separate you from your money, has, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police been around for a while in a couple of versions. St. Albert RCMP have received 7 reports of either the “Ransomware” or “Sextortion” scams where on-line fraudsters have demanded

In rural Alberta, RCMP has received 7 reports of either the “Ransomware” or “Sextortion” scams where on-line fraudsters have demanded large sums of bitcoin be paid to them to avoid having their information released to the public.

The first version of this scam is called Ransomware. According to the Canadian Anti- Trust site (http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/fraud), Ransomware means victims receive a pop-up message on their computer stating something similar to “This IP address was used to visit websites containing pornography, child pornography, zoophile and child abuse. Your computer also contains video files with pornographic content, elements of violence and spam messages with terrorist motives.” The messages are engineered to appear as if coming from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and tell consumers they will have to pay to unlock their computer – often in bitcoin.

Bitcoin is not traceable.

The RCMP or any other police agency are not sending this message, and do not demand payment to unlock computers.

Warning signs – How to protect yourself

  • Beware of pop-up messages or a banner with a ransom request.
  • Be wary of free downloads and website access, such as music, games, movies and adult sites. They may install harmful programs without you knowing.
  • Make regular back-ups of important files and keep your operating system and software up to date

The second version of this scam is called Sextortion. The Canadian Anti-Trust site states that victims are lured into an online relationship through social media or pornographic websites. As the relationship builds, victims are encouraged to use the computer’s camera and the scammer will coerce the victim to perform a sexual act on camera. The victim is later advised that the event was recorded and to pay a fee or the video will be released.

Warning signs – How to protect yourself

  • Deny any requests to perform an illicit act over the internet.
  • Disable your webcam or any other camera connected to the internet when you are not using it. Hackers are able to obtain remote access and record.
  • Carefully consider who you are sharing explicit videos and photographs with.

One of the serious issues that allow these scams to continue is many people are embarrassed that they fell victim to the scam artists, and they either don’t want to report it or don’t want to tell their family about getting scammed.

The RCMP are asking the public to report any suspicious activity to their local police service, and also to report the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm