Public warned about 'Gardaí locking computer' scam

A cyber-crime scam which fraudulently uses the logo for An Garda Síochána to con money has become one of the largest and most sophisticated of its kind, it has been claimed.

Hundreds of instances of the Ransomware fraud have been reported this year, prompting calls for the force to run a social media campaign to make people aware.

The scam originated in in eastern Europe in 2005 but has spread quickly. The type of Ransomware in Ireland sees hackers attack a user’s software and then post a message with the Garda logo to say the computer has been locked and a fine must be paid or legal action will be taken.

A number of people have reportedly tried to pay fines over the counter in a Garda station.

Gardaí were first alerted to the scam in June last year.

IT security firm Smarttech claimed it has dealt with hundreds of instances of the cyber attack this year and that many more cases are going unreported.

The company has written to the force asking them to take new action in the fight against cyber crime.

“A social media campaign by the gardaí could go a long way in decreasing the number of attacks taking place,” the company’s chief executive Ronan Murphy said.

“When people are informed and aware they are much less likely to get taken in.

“This has been happening all over Europe for the past year or two. The Bundespolizei in Germany had a similar situation as well as the police force in the UK.

“The Garda Síochána should be taking more measures to warn the public of this scam. The advice from Smarttech to anyone facing this situation is to definitely not pay the fine and have the PC repaired by a reputable repair person.”

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