The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public after receiving several reports of ransomware fraud over the past several weeks.
Here’s how the scam works, according to a news release from Captain Paul Barta:
The target clicks an email link that locks their computer, which then requires a “ransom” to be paid to regain control. The scammer then requests personal banking information and directs their victims to purchase gift cards and provide the numbers on the back of the cards to pay the ransom.
Investigators say there’s no guarantee that access to the computer will be restored once the ransom is paid.
Authorities say investigative options for such scams can be limited, becase the scammers take measures to conceal their identities. Complicating matters, they often operate across international borders and are able to avoid detection and prosecution.
“The Sheriff’s Office encourages the public to be cautious of these scams and any online or telephone request for personal information or payment in the form of gift cards,” says Barta’s release. “Local businesses can help stop these scams by warning customers that are attempting to purchase gift cards of excessive value.”