Art Kern found an alarming message on his computer screen when the machine suddenly locked up a few days ago.
It accused the Langley resident of committing computer crimes, listing a number of possible violations, everything from illegally downloading music to distributing child pornography.
"It really bugs me that I'd be called a child pornographer," Kern said.
Emblazoned with the logos of the RCMP and a number of major Canadian companies, the single page of text informed him that he was about to be charged with various crimes.
"Your personality and address are currently being identified, a criminal case is going to be initiated against you under one or more articles specified above within the next 72 hours," reads the notice.
Of course, he could just pay a $100 "fine" and the problems would go away, promises the message. His computer would be turned back on and he would not be put on trial.
A suspicious Kern immediately checked with the Langley RCMP and confirmed that the entire thing was a scam.
Dubbed "ransomware," the crime involves a hack that locks up a victim's computer. It was last seen in September in Langley and seems to have made a return engagement, according to Cpl. Holly Marks, a spokesperson for the local RCMP.
There have been a few cases locally in recent weeks.
Even if the victim of the ransomware pays up, their computer will not be unlocked, Marks warned. The only way to fix the problem is to take the computer to a technician and have the malevolent software removed.
Kern doesn't know exactly how his computer got infected - he'd run his anti-virus software the morning before the computer locked up.
Several agencies, non-profits, and private corporations are being impersonated by the scam artists. Logos from Canadian Tire and gas companies are found on the fake notification.
One of those is the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance, which has put up a warning on its own site about the malware:
"The name of the ICSPA and various law enforcement agencies are being used in an attempt to trick citizens into making payment to criminal groups who are carrying out a ransomware scam. Anyone who receives email communications to 'release' or 'unblock' their computer should report their concerns to their local police services and under no circumstances pay any money."
Anyone who has been a victim of the computer scam can contact the Langley RCMP at 604-532-3200 with questions.
Kern said he just wants more people to know about it, so they can avoid losing their money to thieves.