News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Jan. 30, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Cyber criminals are extorting residents of the CSRA through very frightening malware.
Just imagine your computer freezes, then what appears to be an FBI agent begins sending you messages and even gains control of your Web cam to tape you. That's exactly how a group of bad guys are getting money from people.
"It's kind of shocking. Kind of intimidating," said David Shaver about the ominous message on his laptop. "It looked legit. It looked legit definitely."
Shaver was paying a few bills online when what appeared to be an FBI warning popped up across his screen.
"It's like the real FBI symbol and label and it's worded very scholarly," Shaver stated.
Even more frightening, the so-called FBI page told him they were recording him through his Web cam, which suddenly turned on.
"Pay, I forget, $250 and send it to this address and we will remove it," he said about the warning.
It didn't take him long to figure out it was a scary combination of a scam and virus.
"What it does is it completely hijacks your computer. It's essentially called ransom wear. It kidnaps your computer," John Delgenio said.
The Computer Exchange employee says he sees at least half a dozen computers infected by the FBI virus a week.
"Once it takes control of your computer, it locks you out of everything you can do. In addition, it tries to scare you. It puts up all these scary warnings that are supposedly from the FBI," Delgenio said.
Unfortunately, many have fallen for the sneaky scary wording, mainly senior citizens.
"The trick is, it's just a scam -- once you pay the money, you're still infected, you're going to get hit again," Delgenio said.
The scam is so widespread that the real FBI sent out a warning about it.
"The Internet is just as dangerous as walking into Baghdad; you can get hurt on it," Delgenio said.
You can protect your computer by making sure Windows and Java are kept up to date. Also, you want install spyware on your computer and run it at least biweekly.
If your computer is infected, you need to take it to a computer expert.