Spanish police arrested 10 people allegedly involved in a massive â€œransomwareâ€ cyber-crime organization, according to The European Cybercrime Centre at Europol. Police estimated that the ring infected tens of thousands of users worldwide, stealing over 1 million euros a year.
Through the â€œpolice virusâ€, cyber-crooks required users to pay $134 as a â€œfineâ€ to escape prosecution for piracy or accessing child pornography. The gang includes Russians, Ukrainians, and Georgians. The lead suspect is a 27-year-old of Russian origin arrested in December in the United Arab Emirates. He now awaits extradition to Spain.
â€œThis is the first major success of its kind against a very new phenomenon that we have only identified in the last two years,â€ said Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol. â€œThis is a mass marketing scam to distribute this thousands of times and rely on the fact that even if only 2 percent fall victim to the scam, it is still a very good pickup rate.â€
The operation is ongoing, and many more arrests will follow. In December, three Brits were also arrested for infecting computers with the same â€œransomwareâ€ malware. The Trojan has as many as 48 mutations, using different languages and logos of each specific police service including the Europol.
A month before, Bitdefender released a free tool to remove the Trojan that infected millions of users worldwide with the fake police message. Users infected with Trojan.Ransom.IcePol can still install the Bitdefender tool to wipe the malicious software from their computers and restore their devices by visiting http://download.bitdefender.com/removal_tools/BDRemoval_Trojan_Ransom_IcePol.exeÂ and running the tool in Safe Mode.Â