A shocking story from Romania. A man has committed suicide after his computer got infected with “police ransomware.” He took his own life because there was no way he could pay the massive fine.
Police ransomware is a common threat. However, so far, the worst-case scenario has been that victims agreed to pay up the bogus fines.
A local newspaper, Braila24, reports that Marcel Datcu, a 36-year-old from the village of Movila Miresii hanged himself in the living room. He held his 4-year-old boy in his arms with a rope around his neck. They both died strangled. Another one of the man’s sons discovered the bodies.
His neighbors said they were a happy family. In addition to the boy who was killed, Datcu and his wife had three other children from previous marriages.
Sources close to the investigation say that the man left the following suicide note to his wife: “I don’t think it’s normal what I’ve done (…) I apologize to all of you (…) I received a warning that said I have to pay 70.000 lei or go to prison for 11 years (…) I don’t want Nicusor [the small boy who was killed] to suffer because of me (…) I can’t stand going to prison. I can’t!”
The 70.000 lei (€15,519 / $21,637) fine the man was referring to wasn’t real. After he visited some adult websites, a piece of police ransomware infected his computer. He thought it was a real warning from the police, so he became desperate, very desperate.
Police ransomware usually asks victims to pay a small fine, around $200 or €200. It’s not difficult to imagine how a man who thinks everything on the Internet is real becomes desperate after hearing that he has to pay such a large amount.
We’re trying to find out if the Romanian version of the police ransomware really asks for such a large amount of money. As far as we know, it usually asks for a small amount, like 300 lei (€66 / $92).
Experts have often advised people not to pay up, particularly when it comes to ransomware that simply blocks the computer’s screen. These types of threats can be easily removed since there are special tools designed to clean up the infection.
However, it’s clear that not everyone knows about police ransomware. Now, the cybercriminals that run these scams have a man’s life on their conscience.
And if you’re thinking that these cybercriminals don’t have a conscience, some of them apparently do. Symantec has recently come across a piece of ransomware that encrypts files. However, the files can be restored for free after one month.