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FBI, APD warn of computer virus

Amarillo, TX -- A computer virus that holds your computer for ransom has made its way to Amarillo.  And now the Amarillo police and the FBI are warning the public of the threat.

The Reveton virus is a specific kind of ransomware - so named because it effectively holds your computer hostage.  It essentially freezes your system and demands money to restore it.

With most viruses, you have to actually click on an infected email or file to get it - but the Reveton virus is hidden within web pages.

Once on your computer, it appears like a pop-up ad, claiming to be the FBI and says your computer has illegal material on it, and if you don't pay the fine, you'll face criminal charges.  Amarillo police say they've seen a few local cases.

"We've had a couple of phone calls just in the last day or two, and in one case, an individual had actually wired off probably three to four hundred dollars before checking with some family members and realized it was really a scam."

Experts say if you're infected, you shouldn't trust your computer's anti-virus software to take care of the problem, because the virus could still be there, as Amarillo web developer Josh Knapp explains, "Any kind of virus that's locking down your machine - it's really important to call a professional and get it cleaned off, and make sure your registry and everything looks really good, and you're not dealing with some kind of key logging going on that's sending your passwords or credit card information back to the person that planted the malware maliciously."

The Reveton virus has been around since last year, but recent cases cropping up are spurring the FBI and Amarillo police to re-issue warnings.

"They're going to make changes in them," says Cpl. Neufeld.  "They're going to tweak it a little bit differently, they're going to try to entice someone else to send them money, so people just need to be very, very careful before they send any money out."

If you'd like to learn more from the FBI or file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), follow the links attached to this story.

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