FBI computer virus spreading in Tucson - Tucson News Now

FBI computer virus spreading in Tucson

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It begins innocently enough.

Sitting at the computer visiting a shopping site when all of sudden a warning appears that the computer has been locked by the FBI.

It warns the user than unless they pay $200 in the next 72 hours they will be arrested.

It accuses the user of visiting child pornography sites or conversing with terrorists. 

It gives instructions on how to make payment and once that's done the computer will be unlocked.

Of course, paying $200 does nothing.

It's a scam.

"It really looks legit," says Farez Zein, who fixes the computers for Computer Renaissance on Tucson's Northwest side. "It's got all the right logos."

Karen Richeson says the virus infected her computer complete with a photograph of her on the page.

"I didn't realize they could get in my computer and take my picture without me knowing it," she says.

She says she and her husband recently bought a new computer with a camera but didn't know how it really worked.

"I thought I had to click a mouse to turn it on," she says.

She also says it's hard to believe they would be the target of a virus because the retired couple doesn't use the computer much.

"The only thing I do is search for names and addresses once in a while and talk to five or six friends on email," she says.

She paid to have Staples to remove the virus.

Zein says he saw the virus once in a while a few months ago but now it's at lease twice a week.

He says there are three types, two of them can generally be removed by a person who knows a bit about computers. But the third one can be nasty.

"That's become more and more prevalent, the one that not everybody can get rid of, where you have to completely wipe the system clean," he says.

Zein says he's seen people pay the money then have to have the computer professionally fixed.

"A lot of people will say let's just pay and get this over with because of the wording, child pornography or illegal downloads, all of them sound threatening," he says.

Marana police say they are interested in any case involving fraud and extortion but didn't want to talk about this one.

In the meantime, Richeson says she may upgrade her skills.  

"I need to get more computer literate before I start using that thing again," she says. 

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