Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Man kills self, son, over malware threat on his computer

Nicusor was found hanged in his father's arms.

Nicusor was found hanged in his father's arms.

A Romanian man and his son were found dead with a note, “I received a warning [on my computer] that said I have to pay 70.000 lei [$22,000] or go to prison for 11 years. I don’t think it’s normal what I’ve done…I apologize to all of you. I don’t want Nicusor to suffer because of me…I can’t stand going to prison. I can’t.” The threat was bogus; generated by malware.

Police believe that Marcel Datcu, 36, from Romania’s eastern Brăila County, killed himself and his four-year-old-son, Nicusor, as a direct result of a threat generated by a type of malware on his computer known as ransomware.

According to police, Datcu picked up his son at kindergarten around noon, went home and hung himself and the boy from a beam in the living room. They were both found hanging, the child in his father’s arms.

The makers of ransomware tailor it to look like a communication from law enforcement, and generally use it to shake down those who visit porn sites. The scam is that the user has a choice: go to jail or pay a fine. Usually the fine is around $300, so most people  pay up.

Police have Datcu’s computer, though they have not specified what sites he visited that could have given him the malware.

The only thing unique about this ransomware seems to have been the unusually high “fine,” which Datcu presumably could never have afforded to pay. That and the terrible toll it took in the form of human life.

The funeral is tomorrow.

A sample of Romanian ransomware

A sample of Romanian ransomware.

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