November 28, 2014
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AG warns of online extortion scam

Seeing a spike in reports of a new and dangerous malware program infecting computers nationwide, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin warned computer users of a dangerous new “ransomware” named “Reveton.” Reveton lures the victim to a “drive-by download website,” at which time the ransomware is installed on the user’s computer.

Ransomware is the latest term for scams used by computer hackers and identity thieves whereas the program installs extortive malware that holds users' data to ransom until payment is made.

Once Reveton is installed, the computer freezes and a screen is displayed warning the user they have violated United States federal law. The message further declares the user’s IP address was identified by the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section as visiting child pornography and other illegal content.

To unlock the computer, the user is instructed to pay a $100 fine to the U.S. Department of Justice using prepaid money card services. The geographic location of the user’s IP address determines what payment services are offered. In addition to the ransomware, Reveton continues to operate on the compromised computer and can be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud.

Kilmartin warns computer users that if they have received this or something similar, do not follow payment instructions.

“In today’s increasingly technology-based world, scam artists continuously find new ways to dupe consumers online,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “This latest scheme preys upon Internet users’ fears – that that they unknowingly stumbled upon a forbidden website, and in doing so, broke the law. In their panic to clear their good name, many consumers have been tricked into paying over their hard-earned money to scam artists.”

Attorney General Kilmartin offers the following tips to help avoid this scam:

Make sure you only visit secure websites. A secure website has an address that begins with “http” and includes a padlock icon on the toolbar.

Do not click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown source.

Protect all of your hardware (computer, mobile devices, gaming stations, etc.) with up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software.

Maintain the highest level of firewall allowed by your computer and web browser.

If you receive an email message containing this scam or a similar one, file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.

Contact your banking institution directly and inform them if you are the victim of a scam.

Unsolicited email offers and spam can be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.spam.uce.gov.

If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Department of Rhode Island Attorney General at 274-4400. You can download a consumer complaint by visiting our website at www.riag.ri.gov. You can also email us at contactus@riag.ri.gov.


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