The F.B.I. is watching your computer activity, or at least that's what a new virus wants you to think.
"It's one of the more elaborate concoctions that I've seen," claimed Rich Dailey, a computer repairman. "The FBI logo and banner at the top of the screen looks identical to the FBI website. The rest of it's kind of sketchy. When you look closely at it, you can see discrepancies, you can see slight misspellings, and poor grammar."
Dailey said he's been working on computers since 1983. He scoffs that he's seen it all from Microsoft Windows to the internet, but this new trend is alarming.
"They're grabbing control and seizing control of your computer and holding it for ransom," he explains the virus is called "ransomware."
Dailey said the virus even uses the person's IP address and internet provider to sell the legitimacy. Even worse, he says, there's a section that explains how to pay "your fine" that ranges in the hundreds of dollars.
"It's meant to fool people."
This week alone, Dailey has had three people bring their computers in to his repair shop in Somerset. Each one, he said, was caught off guard and panicked, but none of them fell for the scam.
So far, he hasn't found a reason for the virus. He says one customer was playing solitaire when the pop-up appeared, and another said it happened while they were checking their email.
In just a matter of minutes, a malware program that Dailey ran caught eight viruses on one customer's computer. He explained that this attack could even compromise your private information.
"Any stored or saved passwords, or credit card information, or private information is being saved on your computer can be extracted."
However, getting this ransomware does not appear to be a death sentence for your computer. Dailey said he's been able to remove each issue, "It just takes a while."
Still, he's concerned that this is just the beginning to a bigger problem, "I'm just in a small area here, so I imagine it's propagating fairly quickly."
The Better Business Bureau said they've received reports of other scams similar to this one, and they caution users to be cautious and alert. They add that government agencies, like the F.B.I., would not use pop-up messages to warn you of your online activity.