Internet scammers hit Corinth

Published 11:35 am Thursday, October 25, 2012

An Internet scam in which perpetrators pose as the FBI in an attempt to extort money is cropping up in the Corinth area.

Detective Capt. Ralph Dance told the Daily Corinthian the Police Department has received several complaints about what the Reveton “ransomware” virus, which locks the user’s computer and accuses the user of illegal activity. At least one victim in Corinth has sent money to the scammers.

The FBI will not ask for money, Dance said. “They will come and get you.”

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Dance said users get a pop-up window purportedly from the FBI saying the computer is locked and that a $200 Green Dot MoneyPak card must be sent to pay a fine. The scam may threaten criminal charges if payment is not made.

The pop-up typically states the user’s Internet address was identified by the FBI or the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section as having been associated with child pornography sites or other illegal online activity.

The FBI describes the virus as “drive-by malware” because it can install itself when users visit a compromised website rather than through opening a file or attachment. Once infected, the computer immediately locks and the message appears.

The virus first got the FBI’s attention in 2011. Since then, it has become more widespread in the United States and internationally.

Some variants of the extortion virus can turn on computer webcams and display the victim’s picture on the frozen screen, according to the FBI.

The average user will not be easily able to remove the malware, according to the FBI, but instructions can be found on the Internet.