It comes as no surprise that cybercriminals intentionally prey on unsuspecting PC users for financial gain; after all, cybercrime is much more lucrative and significantly less risky than drug trafficking, for instance.
Cybercriminals typically steal the identity of their victims and use it for financial gain – this is done by opening unauthorized lines of credit and using goods purchased online to launder money. Because this is the most common method deployed by cybercriminals and hackers, credit card companies have become aware of certain trends that might flag a credit application as fraudulent, decreasing the number of identity-theft related damages.
This hasn’t deterred cybercriminals, unfortunately; they are now innovating new ways of stealing from innocent people, and the most recent scheme might shock you – they are literally making you deliver your money directly to them.
This type of scheme is appropriately named “ransomware”, in which an infected computer is effectively held ransom. Most ransomware vairants will cause a message will appear, informing the user that their computer has been locked. The lock can be removed by providing a payment of anywhere from $200 to $800 via Moneypak cards – a prepaid card used for online purchases. To make matters worse, these ransomware messages threaten the user with legal action, accusing them of illegally downloaded copyrighted content. To the unsuspecting user, this may seem like a legitimate lock-out, prompting them to pay.
You should know that this is simply a ploy. The FBI, or any other government agency for that matter, will never hold your computer ransom until you pay a fine, especially with a prepaid debit card. An interesting observation is that these hackers seem to have forgotten about your sixth amendment rights; could this suggest that the creators of ransomware aren’t from the US? In any event, the payment will not remove the ransom and your payment will have funded more cybercrime.
Remember that you should never enter any personal information or payment into any one of these screens. Ransomware is dangerous and can cause a lot of financial damage to an unsuspecting victim.