Don’t Waste Your Money: Beware of foreign threat scams - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don’t Waste Your Money: Beware of foreign threat scams

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(Toledo News Now) -

As we enter the holiday season, foreign scam artists are getting geared up for a big season of their own. Their newest approach, according to authorities, is to threaten victims.

The FBI is warning about a growing number of scams that threaten victims with fines, a utility disconnect or even arrest.

Jennifer Werner booted up her computer earlier this year to find a strange web page had taken over.

"We walked in and saw a screen up on the computer, and it had the FBI logo, and thought someone in the house had done something wrong or on accident," Werner explained.

The FBI alert stated that Werner had visited an illegal website. To unlock the computer, it said she had to pay a $200 fine. But it wasn't from the FBI.

It was something called Ransomware.

"It is a bogus virus people have gotten on their computer just by visiting a certain website," said Todd Lindgren, and FBI spokesman. "This virus will attach to their computer and they'll get this screen saying they've done something wrong."

The FBI says more and more scammers are turning to threats, which are much more likely to get your attention than a fake sweepstakes or inheritance scam. Several threat scams are now circulating; another uses the IRS logo and email address, and claims there has been a problem with your tax return. A third uses your local utility's name and claims your gas and electric will be turned off if you don't pay immediately by credit card or wire transfer.

"Certainly never pay money to a third party, because it is probably a scam and we don't want people to become victims of that," said Lindgren.

Check with the agency involved or simply Google the threat, which is how Werner learned she was not under investigation by the FBI.

Remember to never wire or transfer money to anyone you don't know personally so you don't waste your money.

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