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Cyber criminals leverage ICE cyber crimes unit

Online scammers have again taken to using the name of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Cyber Crimes Center (IC3) to extort money from unsuspecting victims online.

ICE issued a scam alert on Feb. 15 that said cyber criminals were using emails purporting to be from the Cyber Crimes Center to lure potential victims to a “drive-by download” Website, where ransomware was installed on the user’s computer.  

Once installed, ICE said the computer freezes and the user is warned that their computer has been blocked due to federal criminal violations. The user is then told they must pay the ICE Cyber Crimes Center $400 within 48 hours to have their computer unlocked.

ICE said the message is a hoax and not a legitimate communication from ICE. It advised anyone that receives it not to follow the payment instructions. Instead it recommended visiting the IC3 Web site to file a complaint, get a reputable computer expert to help remove the malware and keep operating systems and legitimate antivirus software updated.

The IC3 reported a very similar scam this past summer that used a fake U.S. Department of Justice intellectual property Web site to electronically hold a user's computers hostage until they use electronic payments to release them.

In that scam, said IC3, Citadel malware delivered ransomware called Reveton to users in an attempt to extort money with the official-looking site.

Victims were also lured victims to a similar “drive-by download website,” where the ransomware was installed on their computers. Once installed, the user’s computer froze and a screen displayed a warning that the user had violated United States Federal Law. To unlock their computers, users were instructed to pay a $100 fine to the US Department of Justice, using prepaid money card services, according to IC3.


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