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Ransomware targets Aussie downloaders

A new scam threatens to format a victim's hard drive if a fine isn't paid for illegal downloads.

A new scam threatens to format a victim's hard drive if a fine isn't paid for illegal downloads.

One of the AFP-style ransomware messages. (Credit: Botnets.fr)

The scam purports to come from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and tells its victims that they have violated copyright laws by illegally downloading files, usually music and movies, occasionally claiming something like child pornography. The target is then told to pay a fine (usually around AU$100) or suffer a hard-drive format.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the incident rate of the scam attack rose very sharply at the end of October. The AFP has even released a notification warning people about the use of its logo in the scam.

Variations of the ransomware have been seen around the world for the past few weeks, with a US variant raising the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) from the dead as part of its overall threat.

Scamwatch, run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released an advisory for people who are concerned about being targeted by the AFP scam.