‘Scareware’ scam bluffs BitTorrent users into paying bogus fine for violating copyright

Scammers are creative if nothing else. Their latest trick? Malware which targets users of BitTorrent file-sharing networks and attempts to bluff them into paying an on-the-spot US$4000 fine for for breaching copyright rules.

The ‘scareware’ scam spotted by TorrentFreak.com lodges a sneaky piece of software which scans the user’s hard drive for any .torrent files used to download (and upload) content via BitTorrent.

Once .torrent files are located the software throws a “copyright violation alert” message onto the screen which locks the PC and redirects users to the Web site of the “ICPP Foundation” – a fake body which purports to be a copyright watchdog with affiliations to the RIAA and MPAA which represent US recording and movie industries respectively and are often cited in legal actions against pirates and illegal downloaders.

However as TorrentFreak reports “the whole thing is a scam to extort cash and obtain credit card details.”

A rather official-looking screen (shown above) informs users they have been caught infringing copyright and given a choice between a (fake) court case with the warning that “their offenses could result in five years in prison and a US$250000 fine”; or to “settle the case pre-trial” by paying an on the spot ‘fine’ of US$400.

“Victims are also prompted to give their name address and full credit card details” warns TorrentFreak.com.