Protecting Yourself from the “FBI Virus”
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — It’s the latest scam targeting your computer, called the “FBI Virus.”
It makes you think the FBI is after you, and if you’re not careful, you could fall victim and be out hundreds of dollars.
It happened to one local woman.
When a screen popped up on Donna’s computer, telling her she’d done something illegal and that she owed the FBI $200, she acted quickly.
“Being scared, telling me I had 72 hours, I went down, withdrew money from the ATM, ran down to CVS, bought this Greendot thing, ran home entered it all in thinking ‘phew, this fine’s gonna be gone’,” said Donna.
But the screen didn’t go away, and her computer wouldn’t work. That’s when Donna realized she’d been scammed.
Stan Prager, owner of GoGeeks Computer Rescue in East Longmeadow, says Donna’s not alone.
“We’ve gotten six PC’s in this week so far,” said Prager. ”Some weeks we get a dozen of them.”
Prager says because of the FBI insignia, many people are intimidated and easily fall victim. The FBI virus can even access your web cam and use it to put a picture of you on the virus screen that comes up, making it that much more believable.
But even when you pay the money, Prager says your computer won’t be fixed. That’s because the minute that screen pops up, your computer is infected with a Trojan virus.
“Whenever you’ve got any kind of Trojan, worm, virus on your system,” said Prager, “there’s always the possibility that they’re capturing your personal information, perhaps your bank, credit card, any type of password information.
Donna’s now not only out $200, she’s also out the money she had to pay to have her computer fixed, which by the way, she still doesn’t have back.
“You’re not safe on the internet,” said Donna. ”You’re not safe doing nothin’.”
A tough lesson to learn, but Donna hopes by sharing her story, she can save others from the same fate.
Prager says if this does happen to you, shut the computer off and bring it to a legitimate computer repair place.
He also says taking a few steps can lessen your chances of falling victim:
Use common sense when searching the web. Don’t click on any links that look suspicious. Install good security software on your computer, and have a good relationship with a computer repair specialist you can trust to help you when you’re in trouble.