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Scams and Viruses

Last December I bought a new laptop as my old one was 'working' but had become very sluggish and unhelpful to work with. The other day I decided to bin the old one or give it to a grandnephew of mine to fiddle with.

I opened it for a while to see if there was any stuff on it I wanted to save. Suddenly a scam took over. It pretended to be a warning from the police that I had infringed some law and that my laptop would be blocked until I paid €100 to some paypoint that was mentioned.

I complained to the local police who told me it was a vicious scam. I understand a similar scam has been in operation in the US and in other countries. A laptop outlet in town say they 'may' be able to unblock it but it would cost €100!

I can assure you that that laptop will certainly be binned. Be warned.


That is a horrible scam. I do tech support at a retirement community for retired clergy, and this scam hit a couple of them resulting in the purchase of new computers.

All I can say is... have virus protection, keep it up to date, and do not click on any links that you are not absolutely sure about.

Older people seem to be particularly vulnerable, I think because the mechanism that they use to infiltrate seems to natural. It is usually an email from a trusted friend that says "Hey, look at this". Then you click on the link, but you can't figure out what your friend was so excited about.

People who grew up with computers are more likely to (but not always) catch it. It's a cultural thing.
Thank you. At present I use Avast! but I know that's not enough by a long shot.
For some of my Pilgrims, Avast is fine. For others, I encourage them to get Norton. To me, the "Hey, Look at This!" email is a big red flag. For some of my pilgrims, however, it continues to be the most natural thing in the world, and they get caught time and time again. Again, it is a cultural thing. Most of your long life has not included internet. Emails from your friends should not be viewed with suspicion, and I agree.

If ever in doubt, pick up the phone and call your friend. Ask them if they sent it. If they say no, delete it immediately.
Sorry, I did not know you 80 years.
I can assure you that that laptop will certainly be binned.

If you don't mind losing everything on it, a clean install of your operating system of choice would almost certainly restore it to health.

(Aside from which, no laptop should ever be binned literally; they contain toxic metals, and should instead, by EU directive, be returned to the manufacturer for suitable disposal.
Thank you. Yes, I appreciate that electrical stuff must be disposed of correctly.
Its a pretty common (and horrible) scam but its easy to beat. Start in Safe Mode and use MalwareBytes (the basic one is free) to get rid of it.
Thank you. Your suggestion worked a treat.