Over the years, people have doled out high amounts of money because they believed their personal computers were either hacked or locked by a powerful entity, such as the CIA or the FBI. Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare situation because spamming, malware and virus emails are sent out or infections are installed by the millions each day.
One of the latest fraudulent activities is called the FBI MoneyPak Ransomware Virus, an action that states the FBI has “seized and frozen access” to your computer because of illegal downloading of copyrighted content from at least one website – a situation that has made headlines in Canada.
To remove this seizure, Internet users are forking over between $200 and $400. However, for those who have fallen for the scam, they cannot be blamed because it looks quite authentic and genuine for many reasons:
- It maintains an official FBI seal of approval
- There are messages noting copyright infringement
- Yours or at least some kind of IP address is listed in the message
- The warning “Your computer has been locked” is quite noticeable
- A message urging you to pay the fine within 72 hours to have the computer unlocked
Here is the entire message from the FBI virus:
“You have been violation Copyright and Related Rights Law (Video, Music, Software) and illegally using or distributing copyrighted content, thus infringing Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, also known as the Copyright of the Criminal Code of United States of America.
“Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Criminal Code provides for a fine of two to five hundred minimal wages or a deprivation of liberty for two to eight years.
“You have been viewing or distributing prohibited Pornographic content (Child Porno, Zoofilia and etc). Thus violating article 202 of the Criminal Code of United States of America. Article 202 of the Criminal Code provides for a deprivation of liberty for four to twelve years.
“Illegal access has been initiated from your PC without your knowledge or consent, your PC may be infected by malware, thus you are violating the law of Neglectful Use of Personal Computer. Article 210 of the Criminal Code provides for a fine of up to $100,000 and/or a deprivation of liberty for four to nine years.
“Pursuant to the amendment to the Criminal Code of United States of America of May 28, 2011, this law infringement (if it is not repeated – first time) may be considered as conditional in case you pay the fine to the State.
“Fines may be paid within 72 hours after the infringement. As soon as 72 hours elapse, the possibility to pay the fine expires, and a criminal case is initiated against you automatically within the next 72 hours!”
What is a MoneyPak? Not a lot of people have heard about this, but it’s apparently a card that can be purchased at a local Walmart, Walgreens, Kmart, CVS and other retail stores. It operates as a cash top-up card: customers buy the card, use it as a reload prepaid card, add money to a PayPal account without a bank account and make same-day payments to major companies.
The perpetrators of this scam have upgraded their crime in recent months. According to Forbes, those organizing the virus are now stating that “you are being watched” for downloading child pornography.
Here is what the FBI has to say:
“A new extortion technique is being deployed by cyber criminals using the Citadel malware platform to deliver Reveton ransomware. The latest version of the ransomware uses the name of the Internet Crime Complaint Center to frighten victims into sending money to the perpetrators,” the FBI stated in November. “In addition to instilling a fear of prosecution, this version of the malware also claims that the user’s computer activity is being recorded using audio, video, and other devices.”
YooSecurity provides an in-depth look at the FBI MoneyPak virus, which looks at important pieces of information: what it is, the necessary screenshots, the different fine amounts, the best ways to remove the virus, how the virus got installed and the many variants of the FBI virus scam.