The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department today said they have received many inquiries and complaints from people who have been victimized by âRansomware,â a new Internet Scam that locks computers and demands payment.
âRansomwareâ is a new âdrive-byâ virus on the Internet, and it often carries a fake messageâand fineâpurportedly from the FBI, according to a news statement from the FBI.
âWeâre getting inundated with complaints,â said Donna Gregory of the FBIâs Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), referring to the virus known as Reveton ransomware, which is designed to extort money from its victims.
Reveton is described as drive-by malware because unlike many virusesâwhich activate when users open a file or attachmentâthis one can install itself when users simply click on a compromised website, according to the statement.
Once infected, the victimâs computer immediately locks, and the monitor displays a screen stating there has been a violation of federal law.
The bogus message goes on to say that the userâs Internet address was identified by the FBI or the Department of Justiceâs Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section as having been associated with child pornography sites or other illegal online activity.
To unlock their machines, users are required to pay a fine using a prepaid money card service.
âWe are getting dozens of complaints every day,â Gregory said, noting that there is no easy fix if your computer becomes infected. âUnlike other viruses,â she explained, âReveton freezes your computer and stops it in its tracks. And the average user will not be able to easily remove the malware.â
The IC3 suggests the following if you become a victim of the Reveton virus:
â¢ Do not pay any money or provide any personal information.
â¢ Contact a computer professional to remove Reveton and Citadel from your computer.
â¢ Be aware that even if you are able to unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware may still operate in the background. Certain types of malware have been known to capture personal information such as user names, passwords, and credit card numbers through embedded keystroke logging programs.
â¢ File a complaint and look for updates about the Reveton virus on the IC3 website.
For more information, visit www.ic3.gov.