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AFP computer seizure scam

 AFP computer seizure scam

Your computer suddenly stops working and your screen is filled with a warning supposedly from the Australian Federal Police (AFP). It says you have been targeted because you have allegedly broken copyright laws during downloading, been viewing inappropriate content or accessed data illegally.  

Here are some versions of what it looks like:

Screen shot of the scam pop up

A screen shot of the AFP malware scam

A screen shot of the AFP malware scam

According to the scam pop-up, to get your computer working normally again, and avoid a potential $100,000 fine, you are required to buy an Ukash voucher and enter the code.

A handful of consumers reported to Consumer Protection in September and October 2012 that they had been targeted by this scam. But like any new scam the number of people affected grew over the next few months and some people may never report it because they’re afraid or embarrassed about their online activity (the scammers have probably set up the illegal pop-up to appear in response to keywords you type into your computer). 

WA ScamNet contacted the AFP, which said it was investigating the misuse of its logo. The AFP also said it was in no way associated with this message and would never contact people out of the blue to ask for money.

They also issued this media statement.

Remember no official or government organisation would ever ask you to make a payment via wire transfer e.g. Western Union or a voucher service like Ukash. These are preferred payment methods for scammers because the transaction is almost impossible to track and once the money has been received by the scammer the victim cannot get it back.

As for computer security, remember to keep your anti-virus and anti-spy software up to date and have a good firewall.

If you are a victim of this scam you should contact WA ScamNet (via the Consumer Protection advice line:1300 30 40 54).