Cash extortion scheme targets BitTorrent users

BitTorrent users are targeted by an unprecedented extortion campaign that threatens them with legal action for copyright infringement, unless the pay a $400 “fine”.

According to TorrentFreak, the method of infection is yet unknown. It could be through a download of a fake file or a email attachment. In any case, the infected user is faced with this alert:

It locks the screen and redirects the user to the site of the ICCP Foundation, which purports to be a “law firm which specialises in assisting intellectual property rights holders exploit and enforce their rights globally.”

This professional-looking site lists the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Copyright Alliance (CA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as partners, in a bid to give an aura of legitimacy to the site.

The alert also has a very polished look that could fool many into believing the claims it states. The scareware even searches for .torrent files located on the user’s hard drive and then displays their names on the alert. The user is threatened with 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and is asked to choose one of the two options: “Pass the case to court” or “Settle case in pre-trial order”.

If he chooses to “go to court”, he is faced with a warning pop-up that tries to scare him some more (“Performing this action is construed as a refusal to cooperate-¦”) and recommends the user to cancel the action and choose the “pre-trial settlement” option.

If he chooses the “settlement” option, he is asked to enter his name, address and credit card number in order to pay the various fees included in it:

Users are warned not to fall for this scam. When faced with something like this, it’s always good to do a quick research online. If the claim is fake, you will be able to find proof very easily.

On another note, I can just see the music and movie industry moguls reading about this and thinking to themselves: “Could we do something like this?”

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