Gardai warn on computer scam


Gardaí have warned the public about a computer scam which they say misuses police logos in an attempt to extract money by locking people out of their computers and asking them to pay a fine to get the computer unlocked.

The malicious software detects the country in which the computer is located and downloads a localised graphic with the appropriate language and police logo and locks down the user’s screen, a Garda spokesman said.

“There have been incidents of attacks from this particular computer virus in other countries and computer users here may also be targeted.

“The message usually accuses the victim of engagement in illegal activity and demands the payment of a "fine” in order to return control of the computer to its owner.”

The spokesman said gardai would never contact members of the community in this way.

“People should not share their bank details or pay out any money. If your computer becomes infected by this malicious software, all affected computers should be repaired by a reputable repair person,”

Where a person had been deceived into paying money, a report should be made to their local Garda station, the spokesman added.

“It is important that computer users run anti-virus software and keep it as up to date as possible.”

Microsoft Ireland said last year it was receiving about 100 calls a month from people who had been scammed by phone calls from individuals attempting to extract money after effecting ‘repairs’ to computers.

It warned customers to treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and not to provide any personal information over the phone or online.