Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Be skeptical! This is not how the FBI operates. They don't throw up big warning screens on your computer if they suspect you of something.
The news last night, said a lot of people are getting phony pages on their computers saying that the FBI has targeted our computer for porno and it looks serious and once you click on it, your computer locks up and you can't use it all; you can't get rid of it and it costs hundreds of dollars to get it fixed. Local people are also getting phone calls to this effect and somehow they try to get you to wire them money through Western Union. Have you heard of this? How do we avoid it? They said that it isn't something we download, it just suddenly appears when we are surfing the web. How can I avoid something like this?
In this excerpt from Answercast #68, I look at fake FBI scams and how your own skepticism can keep you safe.
Well to answer the question in the middle - yes, I've heard of scams like this for quite some time. They're really nothing all that new. The phone calls in particular are a fairly common way over the past couple of years for malicious parties to gather either your money - or to actually have them take over remote control of your computer where they then start installing malware.
There's really no way to prevent this in an absolute sense. The single most important thing you can do is... do what you've already done.
Be aware of the issue. Be suspicious; be skeptical.
Understand that, for example, this is not how the FBI operates! They don't throw up big warning screens on your computer if they suspect you of something. If they suspect you of something, they're going to confirm their suspicions and then come and have a talk with you person to person.
So, the issue here is that it is really more a matter of education and awareness. I think that that's really what the news program was trying to get across. The important thing is simply don't fall for these things. If you see something like this, ignore it. Close it. Move along.
Now the other part of this is how does this message even show up?
Well, most often, it shows up on websites that are typically less than honorable themselves. So the number one rule there of course is to avoid visiting those kinds of sites.
Now what kinds of sites are those?
Well, it's hard to say. I have an article on, "What does it mean for a site to be suspicious?" but it's really vague. It's really hard to define in absolute terms. The fact is that even well-meaning sites can sometimes get hacked and can have malware put on the site that can then turn around and present you with these kinds of fake or bogus warning messages.
So, even though you should be avoiding what we might consider to be "suspicious sites," it can still kind-of, sort-of happen. That's why the very first thing, the most important thing - that the news program and that I would try and get across to you - is simply that you must be aware.
You must be skeptical... and before (especially before) giving anybody any kind of money or giving anybody any kind of remote access to your machine - check it out. Use some other resource that's not associated with whomever is calling you to confirm whether or not they're real.
My guess is (especially on the phone) as soon as you say, "You know, I'll get back to you. Leave me your number," they're either going to hang up on you or they're gonna get pissed. I've actually heard them get angry at people for questioning their motives! As soon as that happens, you know it's a complete fraud.
Be aware and be safe.
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