04/19/2012 10:39 EDT | Updated 06/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Scareware Warning Associated With Child Porn


The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has issued a warning about scareware messages saying a computer is associated with child pornography and demanding money to fix the problem.

RCMP on Prince Edward Island told CBC News Wednesday they have been receiving complaints.

"Over the past couple of weeks, some Islanders have received pop-up messages on their computers claiming to be from the RCMP or CSIS or the federal government of Canada, and they state that the computer is involved somehow with child pornography," said Sgt. Andrew Blackadar.

"These pop-up messages, if people click on them, will actually lock up people's computers."

Evan Larter was surfing the internet as usual when the scareware popped up on his screen.

"This RCMP thing come up, it just looked like a legal document stating that I've been blocked," Larter told CBC News.

The pop-up requested Larter pay $250 to unlock his computer. Larter said it looked suspicious and when he clicked on it, the pop-up didn't link anywhere.

"I started looking over the document with a clear head and it had no RCMP document on it. It didn't have the bison head and the crown logo."

In other cases, the warning messages have told recipients to pay $100 via Ukash so their computer can be unlocked.

"I guarantee, the RCMP doesn't operate this way," said Blackadar. "We don't send computer messages to individual people or even to groups of people.”

Such messages, commonly known as scareware, are designed to create such shock and anxiety that victims respond by sending money quickly, said RCMP.

Last November, Ukash posted an alert on its website about a similar scam targeting residents in the United Kingdom.

If you've been "locked out" of your computer, it's an indicator that your system may have been infected with malware and you will need to take steps to address the problem. To protect yourself, the RCMP suggests you:

- Turn on your pop-up blocker.

- Keep your anti-virus software up to date.

- Shut down your computer if you encounter this message.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is still investigating.