Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BBB Alert: Scammers Masquerading As IC3, FBI

Cold Calls Claim Computer is in Jeopardy

“This is the IC3 calling on behalf of the FBI. Your computer has been attacked by hackers! Please allow me to show you how to protect yourself from these attacks. Please hurry, we need to fix this right now.” This is not the FBI or the IC3.

The Roanoke resident on the receiving end of the call figured the FBI had more important things to do than call her and warn her about computer viruses. She hung up the phone and saved herself from being scammed out of potentially thousands of dollars.

Multiple consumers are reporting to the BBB Serving Western VA of cold calls from heavily-accented individuals claiming to be from the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, asking for remote access to their computer.

Scammers from overseas are targeting consumers by claiming they have detected a security breach inside their computers. Once remote access is granted, these scammers claim to repair the computer and then show consumers the improvements they made. In reality they are doing far more damage, as remote access grants them the ability to install malicious software that can capture sensitive information such as passwords, user names and online banking information. Some of this malicious software can make the computer vulnerable for attack long after the initial intrusion.

In several instances, consumers report being locked out of their own computers by these scammers until they send a payment in the hundreds of dollars. After the scammers have moved on the threat still remains, as installed malicious software may continue to report keystrokes and monitor internet activity.

The scam is very similar to another phone phishing ploy pretending to be from the tech support at Microsoft. The only difference between the two scams seems to be the agency the scammers claim to be calling from.

In both cases the caller may make the following claims to appear legitimate:

  • Your computer is infected with a virus and it has ‘somehow’ reported that fact to the technical support company.
  • Your computer is infected with a virus and it is sending out spam emails to people.
  • Your computer is ‘somehow’ reporting critical software or hardware errors to the technical support company, or sending out error messages, and it is in imminent danger of breaking or failing.
  • Your Windows Operating System is corrupted and about to fail.

“The IC3 or FBI will never call and warn you about computer viruses,” said Julie Wheeler, President & CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “These agencies are extremely busy, and in the rare occurrence they are operating a sting operation, will contact you in person. Never give out your personal information or grant remote control of your computer to a stranger over the phone.”

IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Since its start in 2000, IC3 has become a mainstay for victims reporting Internet crime and a way for law enforcement to be notified of such crimes. IC3’s service to the law enforcement community includes federal, state, tribal, local, and international agencies that are combating Internet crime. In 2012, the IC3 received and processed 289,874 complaints, averaging more than 24,000 complaints per month.

Stay safe with these BBB Tips:

  • Install a firewall and anti-virus program to protect your computer and personal information. Update these programs frequently.
  • Update your operating system and web browser software regularly.
  • Protect your passwords by keeping them in a safe place. Create different passwords for each online account that you have.

Never give personal or financial information to unsolicited callers.

  • Contact your service provider directly if you are concerned you may be exposed to viruses or other security threats.
  • Find a computer repair company you can trust. Go to to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust as well as check out a business.

If you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit  Follow us on Twitter at

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Local Events

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