FOX 11 Investigates


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It's got a catchy name, this scam. "Ransomware''. Why? Because the victims, the targets in this case are in effect ordered to pay ransom to get use of their phones back. What happens is this, you open your cell phone and receive an official looking message from say, the FBI, or the Department of Justice. "You've committed a crime.. this device has been used to view child porn.. it is locked.. you must pay $200 dollars via Moneypak to unlock the phone.

Wow you say, that's terrible. I haven't looked at child porn, but I really need my phone and have to unlock it, so you pay. It's apparently netted the bad guys literally tens of millions of dollars over the years, in a scam that's evolved from PC's to cellphones. Yes, you've unfortunately been victimized by internet scammers who've inserted a virus into your phone without you knowing it. That's why you need to be very very careful about clicking on unwanted texts, or emails, or apps and installing them thinking you're getting something cool for free. The FBI, which of course reminds people it would never send a message out like that, explained it to me this way. Justin Vallese, a supervisor in the computer intrusion unit in Los Angeles said '' when these things happen to you they happen as a result of clicking on a link or opening an application.. and not questioning the source of that. The same security things you think about on your PC you have to think about it on your phone.'' He says first, and this may seem obvious, don't pay the ransom. Then... reset your phone, hopefully it's been backed up or you'll lose everything, and then he wants people to report it to the website called (www.ic3.gov) which is the internet crime complaint center, run by the Feds, which tries to track internet crimes and track down the perpetrators. I call Ransomware another obvious example of the ''dark side'' of the internet.

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