United States Courts hijacks your computer; malware demands ransom

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

If you’ve been illegally downloading music, movies or software, you should be afraid – afraid you’re doing something illegal and will soon be caught.

But, if you’re one of thousands who recently had their computer system locked by the “United States Courts” under Criminal Case NO. 4:12CV072011 – Illegally downloaded materials (MP3’s, Movies or Software) has been located on your computer – you should be afraid – AFRAID that you’ve downloaded malware.

The United States Courts Ransomware is a computer virus that displays a lock screen that prevents you from using your Windows desktop until you pay a ransom. This virus, showing up in the past week in western Idaho, is similar to the Reveton virus, which locked up computers last year. In the Reveton Virus, it was the FBI that allegedly had taken control of the computer.

In this new virus, the ransomware pretends to be a representative of the U.S. Courts and claims the government has found “you are distributing copyrighted music and movies from your computer.”

It orders you to pay $300 in fines within 48 hours – and of course, the fine is to be paid with a MoneyPak. Once you enter the transfer numbers into the screen, allegedly it is unlocked, and service resumes.

In addition to the U.S. Courts, the ransomware threatens to take a picture of you using your computer’s Webcam.

This hoax should be ignored. Like the Reveton, this scam can be removed by a quick trip to you computer repair store. Find an accredited business by going to BBB.org.

Here are tips to avoid malware:

  • Be alert and watch for unusual activity is the first sign of trouble.
  • Set your Internet browser to notify you of unapproved downloads.
  • Upgrade anti-virus programs. This will stop a majority of viruses.
  • Pop-ups are annoying software on the surface. Install a pop-up blocker.
  • Upgrade your personal firewall.
  • Use an email client that includes a spam guard.
  • Don’t download software or programs from unknown Web sites.
  • Be careful when trading files or programs with friends and family.
  • Disable cookies on your Internet browser.
  • Read the fine print when downloading programs.

1 Comment

Filed under Scam alert

One response to “United States Courts hijacks your computer; malware demands ransom

  1. Mark Burrows

    I have been around computers and the internet, even before it was called the internet. Everything suggested here is solid. What works for me is I use Norton Antivirus, I do not purchase any of the Norton suites, just the straight forward plain Norton Antivirus without any fancy names, costs me less than $50.00 annually directly from Norton. With it I use Spybot Search And Destroy, which I also get directly from Spybot, be careful here, because there are many products that sound like it but do not work like it. It is odd, because you can commercially buy Spybot in stores, but it is free to download and you can update it as often as you like it. They accept donations on their site. Also in conjunction I had used the free version of CCleaner for a long time, not the pro version. Then I found a better one, which I bought online called WiseFixer. Each of these products when you run them will clean up all kinds of viruses, malware, spyware, and hidden goodies in your registry. In addition to that, they also have some of the most powerful tools to help you computer run more smoothly.
    Yet, even with great software as I have mentioned, it also helps to learn a few basics about working with the registry. The registry is the heart of the data on your computer. Things can be written to it that can look like they belong there, and if they look like they belong there, no aftermarket software will notice it. Using Google, you can find plenty of step by step instructions on how to uncover the mysteries of your registry. I have only once in my life put my computer into the hands of a service repair shop only to have them reset everything back to factory and Windows specifications. It takes me thousands of computer hours to customize the performance of my computer and that involves removing unnecessary Windows background programs. It was decided then that I would learn, mostly by trial and error, to resolve all of my own computer issues. That I have done, with the help of many online forums and technical advisers. Now I consider myself one of the elite in my own way. Education, education, education.

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