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15 February 2013

London, 15th February 2013 – Ukash, the global e-money provider, has played
a key role in helping international crime agencies break a Russian
‘ransomware’ ring.

Announcing at a press conference earlier this week (13th February) the
breaking of the ‘ransomware’ ring, Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol,
is quoted as saying:  “This is the first major success of its kind against a
very new phenomenon that we have only identified in the last two years.
This is a mass marketing scam to distribute this thousands of times and rely
on the fact that even if only 2 percent fall victim to the scam, it is still
a very good pickup rate.”

Ukash has been actively assisting Europol and other law enforcement agencies
in their investigations to combat this scam, as victims were asked to pay
ransoms using e-money.  But, as David Hunter, CEO, Ukash explained, by using
e-money the fraudsters are actually making it easier for law enforcement
agencies to track them.  “One of the characteristics of e-money – like a
bank transfer –   is that it leaves a trail which can be followed by
enforcement agencies to pursue wrongdoers.

“Ukash is designed to give consumers a simple and convenient way to make
purchases online without the need for a bank account or credit card,”
continued David Hunter.  “So we take the misuse of Ukash by criminals very
seriously and have a dedicated team working with law enforcement agencies
around the globe to provide as much assistance as possible.  We are
therefore extremely delighted that this large-scale fraud has been broken.

“Our advice is always that Ukash should ONLY be used online and at genuine
websites.  The simple message is to treat Ukash with the same security as
you would physical cash.”

The European Cybercrime Centre estimated that the criminal operation
affected tens of thousands of computers worldwide, bringing in profits in
excess of €1 million euros ($1.34 million) per year.  Victims were tricked
into paying a €100 ‘fine’ after being falsely accused of visiting adult or
file-sharing websites, with e-money being the preferred payment method by
the fraudsters.  Compounding the crime, when the victims submitted their
payment details the criminals would steal data and information from their
computer too.

Police searched six premises in Málaga province, on Spain’s southern coast,
and confiscated IT equipment used for the criminal activities as well as
credit cards used to cash out the money that victims paid via e-money

Ukash places highly visible warnings on Ukash vouchers and on its website,
to warn people as to its proper use. It is also committed to educating
consumers about the importance of keeping their Ukash code secure with
security tips on its website.  Plus it posts warnings of scams on its
homepage and twitter feed @paywithukash as soon as it becomes aware of them.

Anyone who believes they have been targeted by criminals should report it to
Action Fraud (on 0300 123 2040) in the first instance. They should then
contact Ukash directly on the dedicated 24/7 stolen code hotline 00800 247
85274 and the company will attempt to block the voucher code before it is

These arrests follow-on closely from other recent successes by SOCA, and the
Metropolitan Police Service and Greater Manchester Police e-crime units,
against criminals believed to be behind advance-fee and other scams
involving e-money.

“Ukash should only be used with organisations an individual has verified are
legitimate”, concluded David Hunter. “But, because we know that criminals
are always coming up with scams to target the vulnerable, we will continue
to work closely with law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to
stop them in their tracks.”

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