Sunday, September 29, 2013

FBI warns of "ransomware" scam

The FBI has posted an informational page on the emerging "ransomware" scam that is affecting computer users.
“We’re getting inundated with complaints,” said Donna Gregory of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), referring to the virus known as Reveton ransomware, which is designed to extort money from its victims.

“While browsing the Internet, a window popped up with no way to close it,” one Reveton victim recently wrote to the IC3. “The window was labeled ‘FBI’ and said I was in violation of one of the following: illegal use of downloaded media, under-age porn viewing, or computer-use negligence. It listed fines and penalties for each and directed me to pay $200 via a MoneyPak order. Instructions were given on how to load the card and make the payment. The page said if the demands were not met, criminal charges would be filed and my computer would remain locked on that screen.”
“We are getting dozens of complaints every day,” Gregory said, noting that there is no easy fix if your computer becomes infected. “Unlike other viruses,” she explained, “Reveton freezes your computer and stops it in its tracks. And the average user will not be able to easily remove the malware.”
The IC3 suggests the following if you become a victim of the Reveton virus:
  • Do not pay any money or provide any personal information.
  • Contact a computer professional to remove Reveton and Citadel from your computer.
  • Be aware that even if you are able to unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware may still operate in the background. Certain types of malware have been known to capture personal information such as user names, passwords, and credit card numbers through embedded keystroke logging programs.
  • File a complaint and look for updates about the Reveton virus on the IC3 website.
The FBI provides extensive information on many other common scams and frauds, including those aimed at senior citizens. Its Fraud Target: Senior Citizens page lists several of these, including

Health Care Fraud/Health Insurance Fraud
Counterfeit Prescription Drugs
Funeral and Cemetery Fraud
Fraudulent "Anti-Aging" Products
Telemarketing Fraud
Internet Fraud
Investment Schemes
Reverse Mortgage Scams

The page also provides a list of links under the heading "How to Report Crime and Fraud."