The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is warning people about a ‘scareware’ scam that locks up your computer, displaying a message that says it has been linked to child pornography.

The message tells users that the only fix is to send $100 to the RCMP, (or in some cases CSIS), as a fine.

"No police would squeeze money out of people in this way," said Daniel Williams, a supervisor with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

'Most certainly as the sun is going to shine tomorrow, scammers don’t continue if they don’t make money' —Daniel Williams, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Williams said the malware scam appears to have originated with gangs in the former Soviet Union and was popular in the United Kingdom several years ago before coming to Canada.

"Malware is planted here, there and everywhere on the internet," he said. "They tailor the warning to the country you’re in, so in Canada they say send money to the RCMP."

But the money transferred through UKash "seems like it’s going to Europe," Williams said, adding that following the cash is usually the best way for police to track scam artists.

However, there is a better way to end this kind of fraud, according to Williams: don’t send money to unknown sources over the internet.

"Most certainly as the sun is going to shine tomorrow, scammers don’t continue if they don’t make money," he said. "By paying the money all you’re doing is encouraging them."

Nearly 1,500 complaints in Canada

But that’s where this scam has a psychological edge. Williams said people who are worried their computer has been linked to child pornography would rather click a button to make the problem go away than let the police know about a potential fraud.

Williams estimates the Anti-Fraud Centre has received about 1,500 complaints about the ‘scareware’ scam since it first showed up in Canada last February.

He said once the warning appears on your screen, your computer is already infected with the malware and it’s best to get professional help to fix it, lest you fall victim to another fraud with online fixes.

The Anti-Fraud Centre encourages anyone who has experienced the scam to contact them, so they can prevent others from being defrauded.

"Any and all information that we can gather, we make available to law enforcement worldwide," he said.