A few months ago a relatively new kind of computer virus started to infect the computers of users around the world. So called Ransomware (MoneyPak scam) computer viruses and malware take control of a user’s computer, locking them out of even the most basic functionality. In addition to the computer lockout the malware puts up threatening messages that claim to be from various government agencies demanding money for the release of the computer.
Two of the most common variants of Ransomware virus come in the form of lockouts from either the FBI or The United States Department of Justice. Either version will convey the message that your computer has been locked (or blocked) for committing crimes such as file sharing; illegal software downloads or even the viewing and/or distribution of child pornography. The sophistication of the virus is such that many variants are capable of tracking your IP address, geographical location and taking control of your webcam. The result is that for many users, the virus is a very believable and frightening occurrence.
The ransom part of the malware comes in the form of an ultimatum for the infected user. Pay a fine, usually in the amount of $200, or have your computer confiscated with the possibility of a court summons and jail time. Whether or not a user pays the fine is irrelevant as their computer will remain infected, but many users fall to the scam out of fear of further prosecution.