The European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol, arrested 11 people yesterday in what’s being called a “ransomware” plot.
Lead by Spanish investigators, the officers arrested men in Russia, Georgia and Ukraine who attempted to force people to pay money to continue using their computer or to not be turned into authorities on false charges including having child pornography on their machines.
“By dressing the ransomware up to look as if it comes from a law enforcement agency, cybercriminals convince the victim to pay the ‘fine’ of 100 euros [$130; £85] through two types of payment gateways – virtual and anonymous – as a penalty for the alleged offence,” Europol said in a press statement. “The criminals then go on to steal data and information from the victim’s computer. Since the virus was detected in May 2011, there have been more than 1,200 reported cases just in Spain, and the number of victims could be much higher.”
The plot reportedly netted over one million euros a year for the criminals.
The ringleader was arrested in the United Arab Emirates where he had fled.