'Police Web Browser Scam' Dupes Users into Paying Thousands

John Lister's picture

An old Internet scam has got a new twist. The new scam makes it appear as if local police have taken over the web browser in order to "fine" the user for "illegal activities".

The "police browser locker" scam is an example of what's dubbed scareware by preying on a user's paranoia (or guilt). It involves popup window from within the web browser, or an unexpected web page appearing and giving a bogus message demanding payment.

A common form of this scam is the infamous Microsoft tech support scam stating that the computer has been infected with malware and the user needs to pay for a security solution. This follows with the similar Indian tech support scam we've reported on many times, including ones currently being perpetrated by netpcexpert.com and easynetexperts.com.

Victims Told To Pay 'Fine'

The "police browser" scam instead appears to be a website for local police, and claims that the user has conducted illegal activity online. Often this involves bogus allegations of copyright infringement, though in this case the claim is that the user visited pages with illegal adult material.

The message then claims the user's browser will be locked until they pay a fine via credit card. Sometimes this is an eye-watering amount, while in other cases it's kept low as the real goal is to get the user's credit card details and sell them on the black market.

Full Screen Image Aims To Deceive

Normally the scam simply involves creating a red screen background alerting users that their systems are infected with a virus. In this case the mouse is also disabled from working normal, which means that the user cannot close the browser window.

The new version of the scam actually displays a full-screen image including a fake taskbar and other Windows desktop elements.

The idea here seems to be that if the user clicks on the (fake) Start Menu, nothing will happen, because they are simply clicking on an image. This could then fool users into thinking their computer really is locked up.

The good news is there's a simple solution. Pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL will bring up task manager, or by pressing ALT + TAB will let the user cycle through to the normal desktop. At this point, the browser can be closed. (Source: bleepingcopmputer.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Have you come across such scams? Should real law enforcement put more effort into stopping such attacks? Or is the risk of the average person being fooled too low to make it worthwhile?

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