Major ransomware operation dismantled by authorities

By on February 15, 2013, 12:00 PM

Authorities have detained 11 individuals thought to be responsible for the proliferation of a nasty "police ransomware" virus which demanded users pay €100 ($135 USD) to re-gain access to their infected PCs. Amongst the 11 caught -- a crew of Ukrainians, Georgians and Russians -- the malware syndicate's founder was also apprehended.

Image taken from:

The obtrusive malware would hijack computers by disabling users' ability to interact with programs and files. Additionally, the ransomware would threaten users, stating they were under investigation by their respective country's law enforcement agency for accessing child pornography and other illegal materials online. The virus offered victims a way out of the mess though, by way of purchasing pre-paid money cards to pay a fine for breaking the law.

According to officials, the unscrupulous outfit generated at least $1.3 million annually -- proof that cybercrime does pay, providing you get away with it. The revenue came as quickly as the malware spread, with roughly 3 percent of affected users actually paying the 100 euro ransom in hopes of freeing their hostaged computers. The virus spread to about 30 countries throughout most of Europe.

The malware syndicate had been headquartered in the Mediterranean resort cities of Benalmadena and Torremolinos. While Spanish authorities apprehended the majority of the group, their founder was waylaid by officials while visiting the United Arab Emirates. 

Europol, a European Union law enforcement agency, stated the operation was the, "largest and most complex cybercrime network dedicated to spreading police ransomware."

User Comments: 8

Got something to say? Post a comment
Tygerstrike said:

So atleast these guys were caught. Still it kinda boggles the mind that ppl still fall for these scams. Im slightly disturbed that it was in Russia tho. I know that in poorer countries a PC can be a virtual gold mine. I thought Rusia had started getting their stuff straight. Perhaps Im wrong.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

I'm not surprised Russians were involved. Good job.

ikesmasher said:

How stupid would you be to actually pay them.

Everyone should have a techie friend...

Guest said:

A big thank you to law enforcement for stopping this kind of B.S. on the internet. My life has enough problems without trying to be ripped off or scammed (it seems) everywhere you go. Now if we could only get all their money and send them to Singapore for a public caning and then to do their time in a nice South East Asian prison....

David Andrews David Andrews said:

Cleaned one of the kids' laptop of this. Pain in the ass.

Did those paying the ransom get a clean computer, or the same screwed up computer and ?100 less in the bank?

Tygerstrike said:


Normally, the scammers leave the malware on the computer. A buddy of mine had it happen ad he stupily paid them to release his computer. Now before this had happend he had bought Norton and had done a update a mere 48hrs before getting the malware. After he paid to get his PC back, he took his computer to a shop and they printed out all the viruses and malware he had. It was about 3 pages. Lesson: Norton, not the best. Lesson #2: NEVER pay them!! A reputable PC shop can charge around 100$ to clean your PC up but they will clean it and give you back a better working computer.

havok585 havok585 said:


100$ ? are u kiddin' me? I do that, better and faster than a "reputable shop" lmao anytime of day, for less than 20 $ !

Guest said:

You forget that people are usually too embarrassed to go to the "reputable" shop, since there's a good chance they actually caught the virus while browsing porn and clicking on those pesky links to videos and photos, even if it's adult porn.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.