The FBI logo on the warning that pops up on your computer looks real and you get locked out from most programs. The notice says the government has locked your computer due to unauthorized access of child pornography but if you send a $100 payment by credit card, the case will go away. It's called the "Money Pak" virus and it is a scam showing up in computers here in Central New York. Dart Computer Solutions in Camillus saw 30 cases in just one week.
"Viruses are meant to spread like wildfire. They prey on the majority and they hope to get one out of ten people to send them money," said Ryan Bitter from Dart Computer Services.
The virus can even access your computer's webcam and make it look like the FBI is spying on you.
"The average computer user is going to fear any government agency saying they're going to be fined - so they're going to respond to it a lot more," said Luke Behm from Dart Computer Services.
The virus can lock people out of their computer and not allow them to access the proper tools to remove it. Computer repair shops have to isolate the hard drive while saving important pictures and files. The fake FBI notice has some clues it might be a scam. The FBI doesn't usually ask for money, use exclamation points or refer to imprisonment as "deprivation of liberty." Even with those faults, experts say the "Money Pak" virus is part of a new generation of online scams
"These individuals or these groups that are doing this have nothing but time and energy and effort thinking about how they can take our hard earned dollars from us and steal them," said Behm.
If someone does give their credit card number, criminals will have their information and the virus is still lurking in the computer.