CREATED Mar. 29, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- There's a virus circulating on the Internet, that can cause some serious damage. The scary part is, even if you're targeted and know it's a scam, you may still fall victim. Action News anchor Tricia Kean shares one woman's story, in this Contact 13 consumer alert.
"I felt violated. I felt like someone had snuck into my house and taken everything," says Yasmin Bach of Indian Springs.
She says she can't believe it. It was last month when she says, a virus popped up on her computer.
"It flashed blue and the whole screen filled up with this very official looking, supposedly document, from the FBI," says Yasmin.
The message claimed the FBI had locked up Yasmin's computer because it was linked to illegal online activity, including the viewing of child porn and selling drugs. And she had now lost complete control of her computer, nothing worked.
"I was getting panicked. Until I got to the bottom and I saw to unfreeze your computer, immediately wire $200. And l thought wait a minute," says Yasmin.
She says she knew it was a scam. And she's right.
"The FBI will never contact you through use of an email, through the use of a computer. We will very rarely even call you," says David Schrom.
He's the FBI's Acting Supervisory Special Agent for the Las Vegas Division Cyber Squad. He says this virus, known as "ransomware" has been around for about a year. The scammer's goal is to scare you into sending them money. David says if you're targeted, it's important you react quickly.
"Turn off your computer right away or unplug it. You'll then want to get some help removing the malware that's on your computer. Don't do it yourself," says David.
But that's exactly what Yasmin did. She kept her computer plugged in and running, while trying to fix it herself.
"What happened then was it gave the hacker further access to completely clean everything of my computer and in front of my eyes everything disappeared. My programs, my pictures," says Yasmin.
Even though she knew it was a scam, Yasmin was still ripped off. The scammer had wiped everything off her computer. Everything was gone, including her social security number, credit card info and personal memories.
"Photographs that I lost, like of my daughters. I have a dog that died and he was on there. I want to get those pictures back," says Yasmin.
David says if you fall victim to a similar virus, be sure to protect yourself.
"File a complaint, if you will, with the credit bureaus, to state that you're a victim, potentially, of identity fraud and they'll provide some kind of protection in regards to your credit, for 90 days," says David.
As for Yasmin, she says she hasn't seen anything unusual with her credit. But she's afraid it's only a matter of time until her stolen information is used. So she's taking time to warn as many people as possible.
"When you become aware that anything is wrong with your computer, shut it off, unplug it. Immediately have it taken to a professional," says Yasmin.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. The FBI says it's important to properly protect your computer by always updating all of your software and getting a good anti-virus program. Although it's important to note, Yasmin had an anti-virus program.
And remember if you're the target of a similar scam, never wire funds to someone you don't know, because it's virtually impossible to track it down once it's gone.
And if you're the victim of any kind of computer scam, be sure to report it to the FBI.