Jun 25, 2013 3:45 PM by MELISSA CANONE
The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is warning consumers of malware programs that lock up computers and demands payment then threatens criminal charges if it is not paid.
BBB has recently received several local consumers who have had their computers frozen and rendered unusable by the malicious software, which claims to be from the FBI, stating they violated federal law and are subject to fines up to $100,000.
In some cases, the message also stated a law enforcement agency has determined the computer's IP address had accessed child pornography or other illegal content.
This scam is being run by hackers infecting residents' computers with a Citadel malware platform designed to deliver "Reveton ransomware."
The malware is downloaded on the victim's computer by clicking on a compromised website. Some variants of the malware can turn on the victim's webcam and display the victim's picture on their computer. Once infected, the computer locks up and a message demanding ransom money to unlock the computer.
To unlock the computer, the user is instructed to pay a fee of $450 using a Green Dot MoneyPak Card available at many local retailers. Once the Green Dot card is obtained, the user is instructed to enter in the Green Dot card's code to release the funds.
The malware first came to the attention of the FBI in 2011. Since that time, the virus has become more widespread across the U.S. and the world.
In addition to the ransomware, the FBI warns, Citadel malware can continue to operate on the infected computer and can be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud.
Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this type of malware and the average computer user will not be able to fix the problem.
If a computer is infected with this malware, BBB and the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) suggest the following steps:
If your computer is infected by a virus and scammers demand money, never pay what is asked or provide personal information.
Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. To be effective, your anti-virus software should update routinely. Most commercial anti-virus software includes a feature to download updates automatically when you are on the Internet.
File a complaint on the FBI's IC3 website at www.ic3.gov.
Contact a computer professional to remove the malware from your computer.
Be aware that even if you are able to unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware may still be present on your computer and operate in the background.
Certain types of malware have been known to capture personal information such as user names, passwords and credit card numbers through embedded keystroke programs.
The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.
Acadiana residents can now have BBB information in the palm of their hand with the official BBB Search app, a convenient, mobile BBB solution available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app can be found at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bbb-search-find-local-businesses/id440014505?mt=8