Melissa Mcrae, with the Richmond FBI Cyber Squad, says crooks have designed it to appear like it's coming from the FBI. It's all a trick to get your money. "It will lock up your computer and you will get a message that might say there is an alert and that you've been identified as someone that is engaged in child pornography or some other type of internet fraud," she explained.
The crooks don't stop there, included in that phony message, a demand that you must pay a fine to unlock the computer. The FBI calls this scheme, a drive-by virus. Unlike those phishing emails and malicious links that pop up in your inbox, you can get infected with this one just by surfing the web. "It means you can be anywhere on the internet, doing a Google search and click on a link and it could dump it to your computer," Mcrae says.
Even more frightening, there is no sure fire way to tell if the website you are on is infected. Agent Mcrae says sticking to reputable sites usually will keep you pretty safe. We asked, how do you know if the FBI is legitimately trying to get in touch with you? Would you get a letter, an email a phone call? Mcrae says, you will not get an email, you will not get a phone call, you will not get a letter. If you are involved in a crime, agents will most likely show up to your door. The FBI says people are falling for this latest deception and even paying the fine. Mcrae warns if you pay, the virus will not go away and you will lose your money.
If you've fallen for the trick, put an alert on your bank account and credit report. Don't try to fix the computer yourself, Agent Mcrae has some advice. "Take their computer to a professional and have it cleaned, because even if you go to a site and you are able to get some information from someone on how to clean it, if you are not an IT professional, then you may not get everything," she says.
Another important tip, if you've been infected, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov. The more people report it -- the better chance the FBI has of tracking down the cyber criminals. The FBI says this virus may also pop up a similar message -- and appear to becoming from the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. So, remember don't give up your cash.
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