Computer security company Symantec reported that criminal gangs are making up to $5 Million a year by placing ransomware on computers.
Ransomware viruses freezes an infected computer and places fake warnings from the FBI. The fake message tells the computer user to pay a fine or face arrest.
These scams were originally focused in Eastern Europe and Russia and have spread to North America.
Hackers are able to purchase software kits for $15 and typical charge the victim $200 as the extortion fee. Computer security researchers state that the rate of victims who end up paying the extortion fee is between 3 to 5 percent.
To repair the infected computer and rid it of the ransomware costs around $250.
Source: Winston Ross, “Ransomware Scams Prey on Your Sense of Guilt to Open Your Wallet,” Daily Beast, August 3, 2013.