Scareware: What is it?

The Canadian Anti Fraud Centre has been receiving reports from Canadians who say their computers are being frozen or they have been “locked out” of their computers after receiving pop-up messages warning them their computer has been associated with child pornography. These warning messages, which claim to be from the RCMP or CSIS, tells the recipient to pay $100 dollars via Ukash so their computer can be “unlocked”.

Scareware, the moniker given to these messages, maliciously trick users into thinking their system has been infected with a virus. They then instruct you to download and pay for a specific program to remove the virus. In reality there is nothing wrong with your computer.

If you receive one of these messages, please be aware that it is a scam – these messages are not being issued by the RCMP. Last November, Ukash posted an alert on their website about a similar scam targeting residents in the United Kingdom. If you’ve been “locked out” of your computer, it’s a indicator that your system may have been infected with malware and you will need to take steps to address the problem.

Tips to protect yourself:

  • 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 or link sent to you in an e-mail
  • If your computer is running slow or doesn’t seem like it’s running ‘right’, seek a qualified computer technician.

If you’ve received a scareware message, please contact us at 975-8300 and the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) to report it.

You can also report fraud online through the SPS website.

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