The Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) Cyber Crime Unit wishes to advise the community of the FBI MoneyPak virus. Several citizens in our community have come across this particular scam and reported it to our office.
It was first discovered in 2012 by computer technicians and the premise of this scam is that cyber criminals disguise themselves as members of the FBI. They attempt to persuade victims to pay a fine (usually $100-$300) within a certain amount of time. The criminals have created a virus that will lock the victim’s computer down and then demand payment. Victims have also been threatened by the possibility of jail time. These criminals claim that the victim has violated laws, such as downloading copyrighted material or child pornography). It is important to stress these victims are NOT really in trouble with the FBI; the crooks just make them believe they are.
This type of virus is known as “ransomware” and paying the fine not only does not unlock your computer, but can cause more damage. There are also several different variants of this type of scam but they all boil down to one thing—they lock your computer and ask you to pay through pre-paid money cards, such as MoneyPak. If you are infected with ransomware such as the FBI virus, your personal and private data and computer system functionality is already at a very high risk. If the infected computer is powered ON and connected to the internet, Trojans horses may have complete control of the computer system and access to every piece of stored data.
The public may report such activity to www.ic3.gov (the Internet Crime Complaint Center). The IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.