New ransomware taking iTunes vouchers

Smart phone users are being warned by police of a new scam designed into frightening them into offering up financial information.
Constable Ryan Fleming of Te Awamutu Police posted a warning on Facebook after the latest scam attempted to extort money in the form of Apple iTunes credit from the phone user.
"I would like to draw to your attention to a scam that has appeared on our victim's phone," the constable said on Facebook.

The scam delivered a message to the smartphone screen, along with the NZ Police logo and an NZSIS number, which said the phone had been "blocked up for safety reasons listed below" and accused the user of viewing and storing banned pornography.
"You are accused of committing the crime envisaged by Article 161 of New Zealand criminal law."
And it accused the user of violation of "Copyright and Related rights Law" before threatening a term in prison.

But then the scam gets bizarre as it takes an unexpected turn.

It offered the user the ability to "unblock the device using the iTunes vouchers" and provided a dialogue box for the user to input the redemption code for the vouchers. Users can buy iTunes cards in stores and use them to top up their iTunes accounts by entering redemption codes into the iTunes software.

The victim need not worry if they don't have any iTunes vouchers, used for buying music and movies on Apple's digital service platform. The scammer helpfully provides links to places where the victim can buy such vouchers before passing on the redemption code.
Unfortunately people fall for his sort of scam all the time.

It's called ransomware: software that holds your device to ransom unless you pay up in one way or another.

"Be assured we the Police would not alert you electronically that you are under investigation. If you were under investigation for these sort of crimes, the first you will know about it will probably (be) when we turn up at your house with a search warrant. If you are into these sorts of crimes you better put the kettle on."

Back in 2013 Need A Nerd Waikato customer Braden Simmons saw similar ransomware appear on his computer screen.
"I was looking at websites and a message popped up out of the blue saying it was from the Australian police, that I was looking at illegal stuff and that I needed to pay hundreds of dollars online with my credit card if I wanted to carry on using my computer," Mr Simmons told Fairfax Media at the time.

Electronics retailers and police were stumped so he called Need A Nerd and a technician removed it.
"Braden was not doing anything illegal when his computer got infected. Fortunately we were able to sort his machine out for him," Need A Nerd spokesman David Hallett said at the time. 

Braden was lucky, but others in a similar situation had to either pay up or see the data on their computers destroyed forever.
There are thousands of types of ransomware, so users need to remain on their guard and seek expert help if they run across such messages.