Russian police have detained ten people who managed to get one billion roubles, approximately $30 million, through a clever scheme involving a computer virus, blackmail and SMS billing.
Website Lifenews.ru reported on Tuesday that ten members of the criminal group had been detained in Moscow. Operatives of the city police directorate for fighting economic crimes have told journalists that the suspects created a computer virus that blocked all programs on the users’ computers and put a pornographic picture on the screen together with a demand to send an SMS to a certain number to receive a code that would supposedly unblock the computer. For the SMS the victims were billed about 300 roubles or $10. However, sending the SMS never led to any results and some users have sent it repeatedly.
According to the police, the suspects made about one billion roubles from the scam, or $33 million in just one month.
Although the virus extortion scheme is widespread in the world (it even has the special title of “ransomware”), Russians were probably first to invent the virus that blocks the Windows operating system completely.