ALBANY, N.Y. – The FBI is warning computer users of a virus that installs malware on the infected device that may capture personal information.
The FBI says they have received increased complaints about what they call the MoneyPak virus, which freezes a person's computer and stops it in its track. They say the average user will not be able to easily remove the malware.
Paul Bongiovanni is an average computer user, checking social media sites, catching up on the latest sports highlights and surfing the web. But Wednesday night his computer only displayed a screen saying his computer had been blocked. It appears to be from the FBI accusing him of violating the law and looking at child pornography.
“I don't go to inappropriate websites,” he says.
According to Tyler Wrightson of Grey Castle Security, who gets paid to hack into computers and find a networks weakness for a living, Bongiovanni's computer was compromised by the Moneypak virus.
“Scariest part is you don't have to anything specific, you could get these viruses from legitimate websites,” he says.
Once installed, the virus displays a bogus message like the one Bongiovanni received — which even included pornographic pictures within the message.
“I just thought something was wrong, they had the wrong person,” Bongiovanni says. “Honestly I wanted to smash my computer into a 100 pieces.”
If you become a victim of this malware the FBI advises the following:
- Do not pay any money or provide any personal information.
- Contact a computer professional to remove the 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. Certain types of malware have been known to capture personal information such as user names, passwords, and credit card numbers through embedded keystroke logging programs.
- File a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at the IC3.gov website