BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One Baton Rouge woman wants to put everyone on alert. For the second time this year, her computer was hacked by someone claiming to be with the FBI and demanding money to unlock it.
Regina Elzy has heard about all kinds of scams and computer viruses in her day. But earlier this week, while she was paying some bills online, her computer froze and then a warning from the "FBI" popped up on her screen. Elzy admits she thought she was really in trouble.
It was instructing me to go and pay $200 for a fine within 48 hours or I could end up spending three years in prison, so that alarmed me," said Elzy.
Elzy knew she hadn't broken any laws, so she re-read the message and quickly realized this was likely a scam.
"They had 'criminal' spelled 'c-r-y-m-i-n-a-l'. And I was like if the FBI was behind you, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be telling you to go to Walmart and get a green dot card. They would be knocking on your door," said Elzy.
Computer Exchange owner Liz Black says she's had dozens of people come to her in the last year, with computers hacked by what she calls "ransom-ware".
"It basically holds your computer for ransom until you the fee their asking, however, even if you pay it you still have the problem it doesn't fix the problem," said Black.
Black says no one really knows where these programs originate, but she says you can get one by simply surfing the internet.
"It could be embedded in an ad. It can be anywhere on the internet," said Black. "Then they even have what's called a 'drive-by' where they don't even have to click on it, and it can just get into their computer."
Black adds that anti-virus programs only protect your computer from about five percent of the bad things out in cyber space. She suggests installing anti-spyware like Malwarebytes and Super Anti-Spyware.
The FBI released the following statement:
With regard to this specific activity, this is a well-known and well-used scam that has been in the cyber world and is a well-known problem. It can cause severe damage to your computer system.
Further, It is against FBI policy to solicit money from anyone, certainly to include soliciting funds via the internet and using commercial businesses as partners in such an endeavor. In fact, the FBI does not reach out to anyone electronically. Unfortunately, social engineering, i.e. scamming the public via social media is on the rise, and is designed for you to do something or give something of value.
The FBI strongly advises the public not to fall for any threats or scams via the mail, telephone or internet. If a situation sounds suspicious, it in all likelihood it is.
Click here to find both programs and more.