News Column

Internet Scam Claims to be From FBI

Oct. 4, 2012

John Crane

An Internet scam claiming to be a notice from the Federal Bureau of Investigation blocks users' computer screens and tells them they've violated federal law and must pay a fine to get their computers unlocked.

The virus, labeled as Reveton ransomware by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, is aimed to intimidate victims into handing over their money. The center issued an alert about the virus in May and August.

Victims should not try to rid their computers of the virus themselves, said Dee Rybiski, media coordinator with the Richmond division of the FBI.

"Please don't try to fix it yourself," Rybiski said. "Take it to a professional."

If a user receives a computer message claiming to be from the FBI, they should not attempt to pay the fine, Rybiski said. The FBI does not notify those it is investigating and would never block anyone's computer for no reason, she said.

"You won't hear from the FBI via email," Rybiski said. "That not how we do business."

On Wednesday, Danville Police Department Capt. Dennis Haley said he had received no reports or complaints of the scam.

A scam that blocked a computer screen Tuesday at the Danville Register & Bee read "Attention!" at the top left, was labeled as being from the FBI and included the bureau's logo.

The scam stated the user's PC was blocked because the user violated "copyright and related rights law," has been viewing or distributing prohibited pornographic content -- including child pornography -- or has violated "the law on neglectful use of personal computer."

The virus instructs users to pay a $200 fine within three days through MoneyPak or "a criminal case is initiated against you automatically within the next 72 hours!"

"Criminals are always coming up with innovative ways to scam somebody," Rybiski said.

According to the Aug. 9 alert from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Reveton ransomware lures the victim to a drive-by download website, where the ransomware is installed on the victim's computer. The computer freezes and the screen displays a warning that the user has violated federal law, the alert states.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center issued a warning in May and an update in August on the scam, which first came to the attention of the FBI in 2011, according to the FBI's website. The virus has spread across the United States and some versions of the Reveton can include webcams that show the victim's picture on the screen, according to the FBI's website.

Haley encourages those who encounter the scam to notify the Danville Police Department. They can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at The center is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Source: (c)2012 the Danville Register & Bee (Danville, Va.). Distributed by MCT Information Services

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