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France warned on ‘USB stick’ computer virus scam

Residents in France are being alerted to a data scam involving USB computer drives or “USB sticks” put into letter boxes, the Gendarmerie in the Nord (Hauts-de-France) department has confirmed.

Scammers have been placing USB sticks in households letter boxes, counting on the curiosity of recipients to plug them into their computers in a bid to find out the contents.

Once the USB stick is plugged in, it installs a virus on the users’ computer, through which the scammers can then access personal, confidential details, including financial and ID information.

This “USB stick scam” was last picked up in France in 2017, but now the Gendarmerie in the Nord department have warned of new reports of the same scheme.

They have warned that the scam can affect anyone across the country.

They advise anyone who receives any kind of drive, USB stick or otherwise - or who finds one in a public place - never to plug it in or use it on any computer, or try to figure out what it contains.

Recipients are instead advised to destroy the stick, or otherwise dispose of it safely.

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