A frightening threat popped up on a man's computer saying if he doesn't pay up he could be arrested. It’s a scam that is victimizing retirees.
“You don't have to worry about being arrested,” said attorney James Martin Davis. David Brandenburg didn't do anything wrong, but a phony email fooled him into fearing he needed a criminal lawyer. “I was worried that maybe I had done something illegally on line.”
A bogus email with law enforcement logos claimed Brandenburg had violated copyright laws on the Internet. “This is totally bogus,” said Davis. “Cybercrime down here is misspelled, the references to statutes are complete erroneous.”
Still, Brandenburg paid the fake fine online. The bogus email instructed him to get a $200 MoneyPak. On the back there's a number to enter, then they're promised their computer will be “released” from custody.
“Don't believe that promise.” Continuum Computer Security expert Chris Worley said the virus can creep in through any website and it’s hard to shake. “They download more malware on there that's going to steal further credentials, further information and take your files.”
The scam uses forged FBI logos, but a real G-man warns watch for red flags. “The FBI is not going to inform you by the Internet that you've committed a crime or you need to pay a fine,” said special agent Tom Metz. “If we're going to arrest you we'll show up in person.”
The email fooled Brandenburg into paying $200, money he could use to pay for a computer virus cleansing. “Or trash the computer and start over.”
The FBI investigates cybercrimes. Click here to report one.