New E-Mail Scams and Warnings: Citadel Malware Want to Extort Money

The FBI warns of another new virus making its rounds on the Internet and it does more than just try to shut down your computer. It also attempts to get money and credit card information from those affected.  When the computer is rebooted or restarted, a screen comes up telling the user that they have violated federal laws and that they now owe a fine.  Once the fine is paid, the virus continues working in the background and can steal credit card or banking information.

The following are the details of this virus attack:

Citadel Malware
This new Citadel malware has been established strictly to extort money from users who do not know any better.  When the computer is restarted or rebooted, an official looking screen from the FBI informs the computer user that the computer’s IP address has been locked. It states that this is due to child pornography or other misuse of the internet.  The user then must send $100 to the FBI as a fine through a throwaway prepaid money card.  This is called “ransomware” and is not something that the federal government has put on the computer.

Ransomware
Ransomware is a virus that specifically asks those who are affected to pay money to unlock their computer.  Once the amount requested has been paid, the computer is unlocked and can be used again.  Neither the FBI nor any other government agency would lock a computer due to any Internet browsing activity.  If they think there is something going on that requires their attention, they will seize the computer from the home and take it to their lab for further investigation.  Never pay a ransom such as this, no matter how official it may look.

Eradicating the Virus
If your virus protection software is not up to date then you need to do so immediately before you get the virus.  In the event that it is already on the computer, it must be taken to a professional who can get rid of the virus.  The only other way to remove it is to download software but that is not practical when the computer is locked.  Never send any money to anyone who states that is the only way to unlock the computer.  You also should also contact your banking institutions and let them know you have the virus and then file a complaint here.

The FBI reminds us:

To report potential e-scams, please go the Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a report. Note: the FBI does not send mass e-mails to private citizens about cyber scams, so if you received an e-mail that claims to be from the FBI Director or other top official, it is most likely a scam.

If you receive unsolicited e-mail offers or spam, you can forward the messages to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov.

It is never fun getting a virus but most virus protection software can handle finding and removing the small ones.  This type of ransomware malware is relatively new and your virus protection needs to be up to date in order for it to be productive.  If you do get this virus, take your computer immediately to a professional who can safely and completely remove it and then file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

 

 

Guest post by Lisa Mason.  Lisa Mason is a freelance writer and VP of Special Media for Social Media Sun.

 

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