A startling message is popping up on computers everywhere claiming to be from the FBI saying your computer is locked and you're under investigation.
Just the thought of it happening is enough to cause panic, which is the reaction people who have had it happen are sharing online.
The message claims they're being investigated for downloading child pornography, visiting pornographic sites, or illegal online activity, even terrorism. To unlock their computers, they're asked to get a prepaid card, pay a $200.00 fine and any charges would be dropped.
Brad Proctor of University PC Care in Greenville says, "Some cases we've had some people call in freaked out, kinda saying O.K., I didn't do anything, are they actually gonna come after me?" Proctor says the answer to that is no. It's just the latest computer virus going around known as Ransomware, or Moneypak, and they've been dealing with one case after another. So has Nathan Waters at Computer Peripherals Unlimited in Greenville. Waters says, "We had one gentleman that actually said he called the FBI to make sure."
The FBI states on its website that it's getting inundated with complaints, and that some people have actually paid the so-called fine. One woman told WITN when the message showed up on her computer, she was so concerned, she took it to the sheriff's office.
While some people may be able to clean up the virus on their own, many others are flooding computer repair shops. But the big question, how does it happen in the first place? Proctor says, "One wrong click anywhere can cause it. You can have the best antivirus software and it's not going to prevent it. Nothing's 100-percent." Waters says "A lot of time, typically what we see is the antivirus software is trial and they won't update it and they won't have protection and get infected."
Waters and Proctor both say the best advice to hopefully avoid this headache in the first place is to watch what sites you visit, and to keep your anti-virus software up to date.