The scam works by opening a window on your screen warning that the computer is blocked and private information is at risk, reported French consumer magazine 60 million du consommateurs.
The window asks the user to contact a help number where they can speak to someone who will unblock the computer for a fee. In addition to the text, a “half French, half English” warning is played as a voice message when the window opens.
The number of such instances has been on the rise in recent months and several regional newspapers have reported similar stories.
One of the victims of the cyber attack told 60 million du consommateurs that she spoke to a man who told her the problem was very serious, using the term “level 5 attack”.
He then told her that for €149.90 the problem could be solved. Once she agreed, he took remote control of her computer for 45 minutes, before telling her the virus was gone. But five days later, €450 disappeared from her bank account.
“It’s really a simple window. The computer is neither infected nor blocked,” François-Xavier Masson, the head of the France's organisation to counter cyber crime OCLCTIC, told 60 million du consommateurs.
“The victim will either pay for a service that is useless, or in a worst case scenario the scammers will encourage the victim to download software that will take control of his device or even steal personal data from him. Smartphones are also the target of these unscrupulous companies.”
Computer users are advised to turn off their computers immediately if they believe they have been the victim of a scam.