Extortion scam

The most prevalent extortion scam targeting Canadian businesses is the Ransomware Scam. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer until a sum of money is paid. A computer can be infected by ransomware a number of ways but most commonly it involves victims clicking on a malicious link or attachment received through a phishing email. Once infected victims will see a "ransom" note which is often designed to scare or extort the victims into making payment.

For instance, one message read, "This IP address was used to visit websites containing pornography, child pornography, zoophile and child abuse. Your computer also contains video files with pornographic content, elements of violence and child pornography! Spam-messages with terrorist motives were also sent from your computer." The messages are socially engineered to appear as if coming from either the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and tell the consumer they need to pay $100-$250 via Bitcoin, Ukash or PaySafe Card to unlock their computer.

Warning signs - How to protect yourself

  • Do not take immediate action. Verify that what you are being told is the truth.
  • Beware of pop-up messages or a banner with a ransom request.
  • Make regular back-ups of important files and keep your operating system and software up to date.

Were you a victim?

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Toll-free: 1-888-495-8501

Competition Bureau of Canada
Toll-free: 1-800-348-5358

Ontario Provincial Police
Toll-free: 1-888-310-1122

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Toll-free: 1-866-461-3222

Better Business Bureau
(BBB Locator Tool)


Fraud: Recognize, report and stop it!

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