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A recent online scam has tricked some into thinking their computer has been overtaken by the FBI.
After certain sites are visited or luring pop-up windows are clicked, web surfers’ hard drives reportedly become locked. An on screen notice is then displayed informing the user they have been illegally downloading copy written material, such as movies and music. Users are then falsely fined $200 to be paid, with special instructions via a Green-Dot MoneyPak, before the computer will be freed from its affliction.
“I knew it was a scam the minute it started,” Vandalia resident Ron Carver said. “I hadn’t been downloading anything. (The scam) is pretty good, it’s believable material.”
John Barninger, legislative assistant to Sixth District State Rep. Lindell Shumake, said the scam is too obvious. He said Shumake’s office and the Attorney General’s office have been made aware of the problem.
“First of all, the FBI will never ask for money. That should be an instant clue,” Barninger said. “You definitely do not owe the FBI $200.”
Vandalia Police Chief Tony Laird said residents are schemed from time to time but no official reports have been submitted concerning this particular scam.
Barninger said the scam is wide spread, affecting not only north east Missouri. Cases have been reported around the world.
He said content of pop-up windows should be written down and researched if there are questions of integrity. He said never just click on pop-up windows to see what they’re about.
“The minute (users) click on it, (the virus) is downloaded to your hard drive and (hackers) have access to everything.” Barninger said.
He said the scam is probably untraceable and if it is ever traced, the culprits will be long gone.
“It’s one of those lessons we learn and as soon as we learn it, they suck us into something else,” Barninger said.