Shocked! Thats how Boise resident Bill Allen says he felt when he opened up his computer and discovered that it had been taken over by the FBI.
You cant imagine what it was like to see this full-screen view stating that I violated the criminal code, Allen said. It claimed that I had violated copyright laws, dealt with pornography and contracted malware.
Allen was so convinced that the FBI had taken over his computer on a late Friday afternoon that he stewed about what to do all weekend.
After the initial shock diminished, he said he felt puzzled as to why the FBI would demand he pay a $200 fine within 72 hours to unfreeze his computer.
The alert read: Fines may only 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!
Allen was among a handful of victims of this latest FBI Moneypak virus malware that has moved into the Treasure Valley. The FBI calls it the Reveton. Unlike many viruses that activate when users open a file or attachment, this one can install itself when users simply click on a compromised website.
This virus has been traced to links on several websites, including text and video sites. The virus is automatically transferred to the computer without the users knowledge.
Reveton freezes your computer and stops it in its tracks. The average user will not be able to easily remove the malware, says Donna Gregory of the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Some virus elements can be overridden, but experts say the virus will reappear each time the computer is rebooted.
There are a couple of statements made in the fake FBI letter that sound official: the citation of legal articles, the titles of some laws, and the official website of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It looks so official with all the symbols and website address material, Allen said.
The computer user is urged to go to a retail outlet and use Moneypak Green Dot, an upfront payment system.
FBI says this latest malware version is in conjunction with Citadel malware, a software delivery system that first came to the bureaus attention in 2011. The FBI issued a warning in May.
Some people have actually paid the so-called fine, Gregory said.
If this screen appears, follow these tips:
Do not pay any money or provide any personal information.
Contact a BBB-accredited computer professional to remove Reveton and Citadel from your computer. Research repair shops at bbb.org by clicking the Check out a business or charity button.
Be aware that even if you are able to unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware might still operate in the background.
Robb Hicken, (208) 947-2115