Malware locks up computer, extorts money

We have all experienced a computer virus locking us out of our own computer. And it seems computer scammers have reached all-time high of sophistication and an all-time low of morality.

Scammers have developed new virus not only locks you out, but claims the FBI has identified you as a child predator and then tries to extort money from you.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) was informed about a consumer’s computer displaying a message from the “FBI” stating she had violated federal law by illegally using or distributing copyright laws and is subject to fines up to $100,000.

The message continued to state a law enforcement agency has determined the computer’s IP address had accessed child pornography or other illegal content and displayed a webcam image of her daughter in her bedroom.

Blair Looney, President of the BBB serving Central California states “the consumer was clearly upset that this message and image of her daughter popped up on her computer. She even called the local FBI division to make sure the message wasn’t legitimate.”

It turns out the computer is infected with a Citadel malware platform designed to deliver “Reveton ransomware”. The malware is downloaded on the victim’s computer by clicking on a compromised website. Some variants of the malware can turn on the victim’s webcam and display the victim’s picture on their computer. Once infected, the computer locks up and a message demanding ransom money to unlock the computer.

To unlock the computer, the user is instructed to pay a fee of $450 using a Green Dot MoneyPak Card available at many local retailers. Once the Green Dot card is obtained, the user is instructed to enter in the Green Dot card’s code to release the funds.

The malware first came to the attention of the FBI in 2011. Since that time, the virus has become more widespread in both the U.S. and internationally. In addition to the ransomware, the FBI warns, Citadel malware can continue to operate on the infected computer and can be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud.

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this type of malware and the average computer user will not be able to fix the problem.

If you are a victim of this malware, file a complaint at the BBB and Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

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