A new Internet virus that takes computers ransom is making its way around the web and federal authorities in Boston said they are seeing increased reports of the scam from victims in New England.
Nationally the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it has been "inundated with complaints" this month, and today the Boston Division said that it has received an increasing number of reports from people who have fallen victim to the new scam.
Authorities said the Reveton virus, which has been making its way across the country, has been identified as a "drive-by" malicious software because it can install itself when computer users simply click on a compromised website.
Once infected, the victim's computer immediately locks and the monitor displays a screen stating that there has been a violation of federal law, according to the FBI. The message also states that the user's Internet address was identified by the FBI or Department of Justice as having been associated with child pornography sites and other illegal online activity. To unlock the computer, the user is told to pay a fine using a prepaid money card service, the FBI said.
The FBI will never ask a person for money over the Internet, authorities said.
"Because your computer can be infected by simply clicking on an infected website, the best prevention is to keep anti-virus software and computer operating systems updated," said Kevin Swindon, an assistant special agent in charge of computer crimes in the FBI’s Boston Division. "Whenever someone asks for money via the Internet, users should always be concerned about the legitimacy of the request because the commonality in nearly all Internet scams is a request for money."