FBI Warns Against Ransomware Internet Scam

Updated: 01/15/2013 7:50 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz

Computer scams are growing and becoming more dangerous every second. Now, internet crime has turned on the very agency that tries to stop it, the FBI. 

The FBI is warning against a virus called Reveton ransomware, which can activate by clicking on a compromised web page. The scam appears to come from the FBI, complete with an FBI logo and a warning accusing the user of distributing child pornography. It then freezes the computer and demands payment of $100 or more within 72 hours.

"If you want to pretend you are credible, who would you try to imitate? You would pretend you are FBI," said Dr. Massoud Amin, Director of the University of Minnesota's Technological Leadership Institute.

"You would never receive an email from the FBI stating that you owe a fine. Any time that we are involved with a child pornography investigation, or any investigation for that matter, we never send unsolicited emails to subjects," said Kyle Loven, chief division counsel for the Minneapolis division of the FBI.

The FBI is not sure where the virus started or who is behind the scam.

"They could eminate within the United States, or unfortunately they could eminate in places overseas where sometimes the FBI has a hard time reaching," Loven said. 

Amin says the internet crooks are after more than money.

"They can use your machine as a zombie to run it for attacks on other machines, and once they have built a cluster of these machines it becomes even more powerful than a super computer to break down codes," Amin said.

If you think you may have fallen victim to this scam, file a complaint at www.IC3.gov. Contact a computer expert to remove the virus.

The best defense is keeping operating systems, antivirus and antispyware software up to date.