A computer scam is spreading throughout the area, and people are advised to stay vigilant as they work online.
Karen Swartz, who works at Computers Plus in Fairbury, explained that she has had roughly 40 people affected by this scam stop by.
“There’s several different ones,” said Swartz. “Some of them freeze up your computer and make a really loud siren noise saying you’ve been infected. Then, they give a number to call, when you call that number and if you pay them or give them permission to come into your computer, they do whatever it is they do. They unfreeze your computer at that time, but then what they do is come back a week or so later and freeze your computer up again and say you need to pay this much more money.”
She explained that this is similar to the ransomware that has been affecting computers and systems all over the nation; however, Swartz noted that this is slightly different because it is not a virus.
“Ransomware is really bad,” Swartz said. “I’ve only seen two of them come into my store, and it’s a lot of money, and you don’t know if you’re going to get your stuff back or not. The two people I’ve dealt with that have actually had that virus, decided not to pay it. It locks everything; all of your documents and everything that’s on your computer.”
Of the 40 people Swartz has helped, she believes half have provided financial information to unlock their computers. People who have been affected by this scam are encouraged to report it at https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx.
Swartz advises people stay aware while they are doing things online because it could save a lot of trouble in the future.
“People need to be aware that this is 100% all the time a scam, so don’t let anybody you don’t know into your computer,” said Swartz. “Don’t trust anyone that you don’t know. And definitely don’t give anyone banking information.”