Fraudsters are posing as officials from U.S. Cyber Command and other federal agencies to scare Internet users into paying off bogus fines, the Homeland Security Department warned Tuesday evening.
The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, run by DHS, stated that it “is aware of multiple malware campaigns impersonating multiple U.S. government agencies.” The malicious software pulls up a computer screen claiming that a federal agency has determined the user is involved in criminal activity. The message directs the victim to either pay a fine or lose access to the computer.
“The user is told to pay a fine to regain the use of the computer, usually through prepaid money card services,” the DHS alert states.
The FBI has warned of similar schemes that essentially hold computers hostage until the unassuming victim pays imposter bureau agents a fine. This apparently is the first time hackers have taken the identity of the Cyber Command to collect ransom.
“Affected users should not follow the payment instructions,” the DHS alert states.