AG warns of computer security scamAttorney General Stenehjem is alerting North Dakota residents about a computer scam using a phony security warning, supposedly from the FBI, that threatens imprisonment unless the user immediately follows the instructions and pays the demanded fine.
Attorney General Stenehjem is alerting North Dakota residents about a computer scam using a phony security warning, supposedly from the FBI, that threatens imprisonment unless the user immediately follows the instructions and pays the demanded fine.
“By using the name of a government agency and threatening imprisonment, the scam artists hope to intimidate the victim into sending money immediately. This is the worst kind of scam,” said Stenehjem.
The phony warning appears on the computer screen and states that the government has taken control of the computer because it has been linked to illegal downloads of music, videos, pornography or other items. The user is instructed to purchase a MoneyPak card and enter the card’s code number on the screen in order to unlock the computer. In fact, the “warning” is part of a computer virus, known as a “ransom virus” that the user unwittingly downloaded. Once installed, the virus makes the computer unusable until the virus is removed, usually requiring assistance from a professional.
“Paying the supposed fine does not remove the virus or unlock the computer, it simply puts money in the pocket of the scam artist,” Stenehjem said.
Federal authorities said this virus is prolific and has been found hidden in many popular sites offering free music, live wallpaper and video codes, and also embedded in seemingly legitimate offers and links.
Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection division, offered the following tips to help avoid costly computer repairs:
*Install reputable antivirus software and scan your computer frequently. Set your computer and your antivirus software to install updates automatically.
*Make sure you secure your wireless Internet connection with a password. If it’s not secured, anyone within range of your home can access the information stored on your computer.
*If a computer in your household is infected with this virus, do not respond to the threat. Instead, take the computer to a professional to have the virus removed.