Computer users warned to be on alert for 'police trojan' scam
Computer users have been put on alert for a scam that attempts to trick them into paying out a €100 'fine'.
Fraudsters are sending out messages, accompanied by a good imitation of the garda logo, telling users that their computers have been locked by an automated information control system.
Users are told that this action has been taken because the computer has been used to view banned websites, including those showing child pornography, or for storing or viewing pirated content.
They are then faced with a demand for a €100 'fine' to unlock the computer.
The scam, known as the police trojan, has already been operating successfully across Europe and victims have been handing over the money without checking whether the message is legitimate.
The computers are hit by a virus, which affects Windows only, after malicious software detects where they are located and downloads a localised graphic with the message and locks the screen.
Gardai in the national fraud bureau have now received intelligence indicating that the scam is on its way here and messages containing the garda logo have been prepared.
A senior fraud officer told the Irish Independent last night: "There is no evidence that the police trojan has hit here yet but we have reliable intelligence that it is coming and we want to launch a pre-emptive strike."
Gardai pointed out that the force would never contact the public in that way and said computer users should not share their bank details or pay out any money.
"If your computer becomes infected by this malicious software, it should be repaired by a reputable person," a spokesman said.
"Where a person has been deceived into paying money, a report should be made to the local garda station.
"It is important that computer users run anti-virus software and keep it as up to date as possible," he added.