I think many law-abiding people have a finely-developed sense of guilt. I’m always wondering if I could have done something wrong by accident, without even knowing it! Or whether my computer could have connected to illegal content, without me telling it to.
Well, now the Internet Crime Reporting Center, IC3, is warning consumers of a new scam attempting to take advantage of people like me. First, you’re lured to a drive-by download website, which installs ransomware on your computer.
Next, your machine freezes and a screen is displayed, “warning” that you’ve violated United States Federal Law. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? It goes on to claim that your IP address was identified by the FBI as having visited child pornography websites and other off-limits pages. Don’t believe it.
And don’t fall for the line that to unlock the computer, you must pay a fine to the “US Department of Justice,”—really the scammers—using prepaid money card services.
Remember, almost all scams try to panic you into immediate action—before you can think about it or talk it over. Or call the BBB. Don’t fall for it. Don’t click anything. To see a screenshot of the fake warning screen please visit IC3.
IC3 says if you have received this or something similar do NOT follow payment instructions. Be aware that infected computers may not operate normally. If the malware isn’t removed, your computer could be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud against you and other people.
If you suspect that your computer is infected, you should contact a local IT expert for assistance in removing the malware (start your search for trustworthy companies at www.bbb.org.) In addition, please file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.