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Beware of Ransomware Purporting to Be From the FBI

Beware of Ransomware Purporting to Be From the FBI - The Beacon


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By: Amanda

Beware of Ransomware Purporting to Be From the FBI

Your BBB has been hearing from consumers about a version of malware called “Ransomware” that is purporting to be from the FBI.  Typically, ransomware is installed while browsing common websites, but can also be downloaded when prompted by a site to update software.  This type of malware locks up the victims computer and displays a message telling them that the only way to unlock the computer is to pay a fine.  This fine is most often requested to be sent by MoneyPak card.

The message that is displayed to the victim usually bears the name of a government agency, most often the FBI, and often claims that the user violated a law.  In an interesting twist, one BBB reports a call from a consumer who said that the malware used a webcam belonging to the victim to take a picture of the consumer in order to further convey the “reality” of the situation.  These messages are meant to scare the victim into paying the fine; however, the FBI warns that “paying the fine does nothing to solve the problem with the computer.”

If this screen appears on your computer, your BBB suggests you follow these tips:

Do not pay any money or give any personal information. The FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center issued a warning to consumers not to pay the ransom, specifically telling consumers “Do not follow the ransomware instructions.”

Contact a computer professional to remove the malware from your computer.  You can find a local computer professional through your BBB.

Be aware that even if you can unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware may still run in the background.  This type of malware is often difficult for the public to remove on its own.  Even if it appears you have removed it, it may have installed itself on registry or other types of software buried deep within your computer and may continue to run without your knowledge.

For more information you can trust, visit

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Amanda is the Director of Investigations & Information Services and is a regular contributor to the consumer education blog. She is one of our go-to colleagues for answering complex consumer inquires. Amanda also manages our charity reporting program.