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PC or smartphone locked because of ‘illegal porn’

25 January 2018

Several computer users and smartphone owners have reported a new and serious virus infection to Fraud Help Desk. The virus locks their devices by showing a pop-up on their screens with a warning message from the ‘National Bailiffs’ Association’ (Nationale Kamer van Gerechtsdeurwaarders). The pop-up cannot be closed, preventing users from accessing the applications in their system. Restarting the computer or smartphone doesn’t help either.

The pop-up message is reminiscent of ransomware known as the police virus. The National Bailiffs’ Association is a Belgian organisation that has nothing to do with this pop-up. To unlock the screen, the victims have to purchase a PaySafeCard worth a certain amount and pay with it. PaySafeCards are digital prepaid credit cards, comparable with 3V vouchers. Victims are told to copy the code printed on the PaySafeCard onto the relevant fields in the pop-up. This allows the criminals who’ve created the lock to convert the card into cash.

Strikingly, the warning message contains the victim’s personal details, including their name, place of residence, Skype name and email address. Here’s an example of such a screen lock, in this case on a smartphone (click to enlarge):

 

Guilty victim
According to the pop-up, the user has been guilty of ‘using/storing and/or distributing’ pornographic material. For this reason, he now needs to pay a €200 fine.

Most of the victims say they have no idea how their device was infected. They may have clicked on a hyperlink in a scam email or visited an unreliable website with, for example, illegal live streams of football matches.

Our advice
Do not give in to any demand made in the pop-up. Don’t pay any money – you will never get it back. Take your computer or smartphone to an expert. They are usually able to clean up your device.