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Child pornography internet scam hits New Jersey

You’ve probably heard of adware, spyware and malware. But have you heard of Ransomware? A new internet scam has hit New Jersey and uses Ransomware to prey on the conscience of those who may or may not have images of child pornography on their computers. Last year, a variant of the scam infected approximately half a million computers and unsuspecting victims were bilked out of roughly $5 million.

The Ransomware hoax appears to be legitimate to many people because a pop-up window with the FBI log appears on their computer screen. It is accompanied by a message that states that pornography has been detected on the computer. A virus locks up the computer and the message explains that if the user pays a monetary fine the criminal charges will be dropped. Sophisticated variations of the internet hoax even activate the webcam before the pop-up message appears, so that a picture of the user also appears alongside the message. Users typically have to take their computer to a repair shop to get it unlocked. On owner of a New Jersey computer repair shop reportedly repairs a few computers each week that have been hit with the Ransomware scam.

Child pornography charges are very serious. Neither the FBI nor any other branch of law enforcement will ever offer to drop criminal charges for pornography in exchange for money. This is considered extortion. If you receive Ransomware message on your computer, it is not legitimate. If you are actually facing criminal charges for possession of child pornography, you could benefit from consulting with an attorney. Analyzing the evidence and computer forensics used to obtain the search warrant could reveal legal ways to get the charges against you reduced or even dropped.

Source: The Star-Ledger, New 'Ransomware' computer virus extorting millions from users,” Seth Augenstine, July 30, 2013