FBI Computer Scam


The FBI Computer Scam is a type of cybercrime where scammers pose as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to trick victims into believing they are under investigation or infected with a virus. They usually demand payment to resolve the fictitious matter, like locking up your computer or releasing sensitive information. The scam primarily employs scare tactics and illegitimate warnings to deceive its targets and extort money.


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Key Takeaways

  1. The FBI Computer Scam involves fraudsters posing as FBI agents, aiming to deceive individuals into providing personal information, allowing unauthorized access to systems or paying money through various tactics.
  2. Common methods used by scammers include email phishing, software installation, and social engineering tactics like phone calls, text messages or messaging apps to gain trust and exploit victims.
  3. To protect yourself against these scams, it is crucial to verify the legitimacy of a communication before acting, keep security software up-to-date, be cautious of unsolicited contact, and report any suspicious activity to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).


The term “FBI Computer Scam” is important because it raises awareness about a prevalent form of cybercrime where scammers pretend to be the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to trick computer users into sending money, sharing personal information, or granting them access to their computer systems.

These scams often involve tactics such as displaying pop-up warnings or sending fraudulent emails claiming the user’s device has been involved in illegal activities and requiring immediate payment of a fine.

Being aware of this type of scam helps users avoid falling victim to cybercriminals, enabling them to use their devices more securely and safeguard their personal information.


FBI Computer Scam is a type of cyber attack in which hackers pose as the FBI or other law enforcement agencies in an effort to deceive victims and extort money or sensitive information from them. Typically, these scams employ tactics such as displaying official-looking messages or screen-locking notifications on the victim’s computer, alleging that the user has committed illegal activities or that their system has been compromised.

The purpose behind this type of scam is to exploit the fear and trust associated with law enforcement organizations, coercing the victim into complying with the scammer’s demands in order to avoid perceived consequences or to achieve fake promises of resolving the issue. These scams often use various platforms and techniques to ensnare their victims, such as phishing emails, social engineering, malware, and ransomware.

With ransomware, for instance, the scammer may encrypt the victim’s files and offer to unlock them in exchange for a payment or personal information. Alternatively, the scammer may trick the victim into believing that they are facing legal actions and can avoid penalties by paying a “fine.” The primary goal of an FBI Computer Scam is to extract financial or personal gain from the victim.

Awareness of these scams, coupled with vigilance in protecting one’s digital security and verifying the legitimacy of any purported law enforcement communication, is crucial in preventing falling prey to such deceitful tactics.

Examples of FBI Computer Scam

The FBI Computer Scam, sometimes referred to as the “FBI ransomware” or “FBI virus,” is a type of online scam that first emerged in

It involves cybercriminals creating malware that infects a user’s computer and then displays a fake warning message purportedly from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The message usually claims that the user’s computer has been involved in illegal activities and demands a ransom payment to unlock the computer. Here are three real-world examples:

Reveton Ransomware: In 2012, the Reveton malware emerged as one of the most widespread variants of the FBI Computer Scam. The malware locked users’ computers with a fake warning message from the FBI, accusing them of visiting illegal websites or distributing copyrighted content. It then demanded payment of a $200 fine to unlock the computer. Thousands of users across the United States and even in Europe reported falling victim to the scam. Following a joint operation by various law enforcement agencies, several individuals linked to the Reveton ransomware were arrested in

MoneyPak Scam: This variation of the FBI Computer Scam used MoneyPak, a prepaid card service, for users to make the “fine” payment. A message purporting to be from the FBI accused users of committing various cybercrimes and demanded a $100 to $300 ransom to restore access to their computer. The scam victims were instructed to buy a MoneyPak card and then enter the card number in a box displayed on their computer screen. The cybercriminals would then get the money by transferring it to themselves. This scam affected numerous victims between 2012 and

CryptoLocker Ransomware: While not exclusively targeting users with an FBI-themed message, CryptoLocker was a notorious ransomware that locked users’ files with strong encryption and then demanded a ransom payment for decryption. Some variations of CryptoLocker included a message claiming to be from the FBI, alleging that the user had been caught downloading illegal content and required payment of a fine. Launched in 2013, CryptoLocker affected hundreds of thousands of computers across the world before a massive takedown operation by law enforcement agencies in

FBI Computer Scam: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the FBI Computer Scam?

The FBI Computer Scam is a type of cyberattack in which the scammers claim to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and demand money from the victim. They often use tactics such as fake emails, pop-up messages, or phone calls to deceive the victim into thinking that their computer has been compromised or that they have committed a crime.

2. How does the FBI Computer Scam work?

Scammers trick victims into believing that they are under investigation or facing legal consequences. They use fear and intimidation tactics to coerce the victim into paying a sum of money to resolve the issue. Scammers may demand payment through gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers.

3. How can I identify an FBI Computer Scam?

Common signs of an FBI Computer Scam include unexpected pop-up messages or emails claiming to be from the FBI, demands for payment to resolve a fake issue, and high-pressure tactics to force immediate action. The FBI will never request payment via gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers.

4. What should I do if I receive a message or call claiming to be from the FBI?

First, do not provide any personal information or make any payments. Instead, contact your local FBI office to verify the legitimacy of the communication. Keep in mind that the FBI does not make such warnings or demands for payment through electronic messages or phone calls.

5. How can I protect myself against the FBI Computer Scam and other similar scams?

Always be cautious when receiving unsolicited communications. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown sources. Regularly update your computer’s security software, and use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts. Lastly, educate yourself about common scams and how to identify them to stay protected.

Related Technology Terms

  • Phishing emails
  • Ransomware
  • Fake FBI notifications
  • Malware
  • Online fraud schemes

Sources for More Information


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