Cons are getting more clever, finding more and more ways to trick people into giving them their hard earned cash and personal information. With more and more smart devices and portable electronics being targeted by scammers, it is even more vital to protect personal information and communications.
And, no one is exempt — not even law enforcement. Hopkins County Sheriff’s crime prevention specialist reports that he too was targeted by someone pretending to represent the Department of Justice.
He said while doing research for an upcoming public service announcement about domestic violence — including sex offenses — he clicked on a link that was supposed to provide information about sex trafficking. However, instead of research information, a notice popped up on his computer claiming to be from the U.S. Department of Justice stating that his computer was being blocked for violating the law by involvement in distribution of illegal materials — such as pornography. The notice further lists several “Articles” of US law that were supposedly violated.The notice requested a $300 money pack be obtained from one of five listed retail chain stores within 48 hours, and the pin number for the transaction be entered in order for the computer to be unlocked.
Morgan, due to his experience in law enforcement, knew that the DOJ would not request funding and any written communication would be by mail or direct contact from a DOJ official.
The notice further stated that after entering the money pack number, his name would be entered into a sex offender data base and subsequent violations by him would result in further legal action — inferring he could be arrested and jailed.
Morgan said that’s not the way the legal system works.
A person has to be convicted in a court of law of a sex crime to be put on a sex offender data base, which can be used in research by law enforcement, agencies and individuals.
Doing research, Morgan learned what the bogus popup had done was lock up his computer using a “hostage” scam, which put a MoneyPack trojan ransomware virus on his computer. The good news is, there is a fix if someone inadvertently clicks a website which downloads the virus that takes their Windows operating system or networking system “hostage,” according to Morgan. Just go online, type in DOJ hostage or ransom scam in the search engine and select the best option for the computer system effected.
According to malwaretips.com, the virus can be removed using one of three options: removing the lock screen virus with a system restore, remove the DOJ virus with an antivirus program or a rescue disk.
Morgan reminds people to update their antivirus software regularly, but continue to be vigilant in watching where they’re clicking. He had an antivirus on his computer, but the ransomware got around it.
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