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North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys

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Malware Pretending To Be FBI 'Fines' Those Searching For Porn

It's called Reveton ransomware. It's a computer virus that is popping up on computers across the country after it 'detects' that you have been searching for child pornography or trying to download copyrighted material. Onscreen instructions tell the user to send a fine to an email address that looks suspiciously official, but does not actually belong to the FBI, to stay out of trouble and unlock their computer.

The virus will attack a user's computer and will flash a warning that your IP address has been "identified by the FBI or the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section as having been associated with child pornography sites or other illegal online activity." The only way to unlock your system, according to the warning, is by sending money via a prepaid debit or credit card, to a given email address.

The virus continues with a threat that if you do not pay the fine assessed, criminal charges will be filed against you for illegal download of child pornography or copyrighted material.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is involved in the ransomware case, but not to track down and arrest computer users accused of downloading child porn. The FBI is trying to catch the people behind the virus - what is considered a cybercrime - and shut them down.

If your computer's been infected with the Reveton malward, the FBI suggests taking it to a local computer repair shop if you are not able to unlock it yourself. It does not recommend paying the fine; the fine is not associated with an FBI pornography investigation.

You can also file a complaint at www.IC3.gov. This is the Internet Computer Crime Center, run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. If you are concerned that you may be incriminating yourself in a child pornography case, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer in your area before filing the complaint.

Source: KRTV, "FBI internet scam warning: Reveton ransomware," January 12, 2013

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