WJTV News Channel 12 - Scammers use computer virus to steal your money

Scammers use computer virus to steal your money

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It looks legit.

It's a message from Homeland Security that says you've broken the law online and now your computer is blocked.

It popped up on Melissa Strickland's computer while her 13-year-old son was watching YouTube videos and it disabled all activity. 

"I was just kind of freaked," Strickland says. "It said that we would have to pay $300 in order to unblock the computer."

It also featured a picture of her son snapped on their personal webcam.

"I felt kind of violated because that's my child and I try to do everything possible to try to protect him," she says.

Computer experts call it "ransomware" and say it's just another virus scammers are using to try and steal your money.

"The scary thing about these is they change so frequently that it also can bring along other things with it," says Brad Proctor, the service manager at University PC Care, Inc., in Greenville.

Proctor says ransomware attacks your antivirus software and can open up other security holes that allow the scammer to gain access to your personal information.

"Someone's falling for it somewhere, and [scammers are] going to continue to do it until they're not making money," he says.

Proctor says your children are most at risk because they're likely to click on pop-ups without suspicion.

To protect your family, he says you should talk with your kids about Internet safety, keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, and stick to trusted websites.

"If a business or something looks shady, you're not going to go in," Proctor says. "The same thing applies on the Internet. If it doesn't look legitimate, don't click it."


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