‘Ransomware’ Scam Infects Woman’s Computer


UPDATED: Tuesday May 14, 2013 6:25 PM

A Columbus woman says she nearly fell victim to a scam that said it involved the FBI.

Shirley Vannatta turned on a friend’s computer to check her email.

When she did, a blank white screen appeared for 30 seconds before an FBI warning popped up.

“It says, ‘You’re under investigation by the FBI,’ and that’s kind of a startling thing to look at,” Vannatta said.

The warning said the user violated pornography and child pornography charges as well as promoting terrorism.

It stated the computer could be unlocked by paying a $300 fine using a prepaid MoneyPak card.

Vannetta told her friend during dinner that his computer was infected.

“I take a couple bites and then Shirley says, ‘I have something I have to tell you,’” Vannatta’s friend, Clyde Welch, said. “She says you're being investigated by the FBI.  It was kind of a shock!”

It didn’t take long for the shock to wear off and for them to realize that it was a scam.

They did have to pay $200 to remove the virus from the computer, though.

Vannatta said she is willing to sell the old computer and buy a new one.

Anyone who is affected by the virus should know that paying the supposed “fine” will not unlock the computer.

The best way to be protected is to have an up-to-date anti-virus software installed and to use it.

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