12 On Your Side: Computer virus scam uses camera without your knowledge

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email


News 12 at 6 o'clock / October 10, 2013

"I have a lady call me up telling me she's been locked out of her computer," says Mel Minitor, owner of Phoenix Computers. It is a problem that Minitor says he sees from time to time but not everyday.

"Three customers in just the first part of the week all come in with the same issues," says Minitor. He says his clients lost access to their devices after getting phone calls from someone claiming to be with Microsoft tech support.

The Better Business Bureau says it is a scam designed to get your credit card information and further hack your computer. "These new viruses now and variances that we are seeing it has your picture on the screen," says Minitor.

"It's known as the FBI MoneyPak scam. Con artists pretend to be FBI agents to gain access to your computer and its camera snapping a picture of you. Then demanding you pay them using a Green Dot MoneyPak.

Like in the case of the owner of this infected computer who came to computer exchange to get it repaired. Technician Logan Collier says 90% of customer fixes involve viruses. "You'll be searching around the Internet and accidentally click something through Java," says Collier.

A computer software program that Collier says has a history of security flaws that hackers can exploit. "And then it'll say do you want to run this extension and most people don't know what they're doing and just click yes," says Collier.

He says then it is just a matter of time before the con artists access your computer files looking for personal information. Minitor suggests a radical solution for protecting at least your face should your computer get hacked.

"Take a Band-Aid and stick it over your camera on your laptops or if you have an eyeball cam because anyone can access your camera now," says Minitor.

So if your computer has been exposed to malware or spyware, a cyber criminal can actually control your computer and its camera.If you get anyone claiming they are calling from Microsoft and you did not initiate the call, hang up the phone.

Experts says to limit your chances of getting a virus on your computer, you should keep anti-virus protection updated and avoid opening links and email attachments and stay off porn sites which they say are full of viruses.

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