DALLAS -- Community members in Dallas are reporting a computer virus that displays a phony message from the FBI accusing the user of illegal online activity, then demands that they pay a fine.
"We're getting inundated with complaints," said Donna Gregory of the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in a press release. Gregory said the virus is known as Reveton ransomware, which is designed to extort money from its victims.
Reveton is described as drive-by malware because unlike many viruses that activate when users open a file or attachment, this one can install itself when users simply click on a compromised website.
Once infected, the victim's computer immediately locks, and the monitor displays a screen stating there has been a violation of federal law.
The fake message then says the user's internet address was 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.
To unlock their machines, users are required to pay a fine using a prepaid money card service called Moneypak.
IC3 suggests the following for Reveton virus victims:
* Do not pay any money or provide any personal information.
* Contact a computer professional to remove Reveton and Citadel malware from your computer.
* Be aware that even if you are able to unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware may still operate in the background. Some malware can capture personal information such as user names and passwords.
* File a complaint and look for updates about the Reveton virus on the IC3 website.