We have previously written that sex crimes are among the most severely punished and publicly reviled criminal offenses, especially sex crimes against children. Therefore, it should go without saying that if the FBI or some other law enforcement agency detected evidence of online activity related to child pornography, you would be facing much stricter penalties than a mere fine.

Yet, thousands of victims in Wisconsin and around the country have received such a message on their computer screens. A malicious virus known as Reveton ransomware (and commonly referred to as the "FBI Virus") is making its way around the web in order to scam money by frightening the individuals whose computers get infected by it.

Unlike other viruses that require the user to open a file or download an attachment, Reveton ransomware is known to be a "drive-by" virus, because it can infect your computer just by visiting a security-compromised website.

Here's how it works: once the virus infects your computer, your whole screen gets filled by a notice that looks like it is from the FBI. It informs you that your internet address was flagged as having engaged in the viewing/transfer of child pornography or other illegal online activities. It then locks your computer and says it will stay locked until you pay a fine (usually $200) through a prepaid money card service.

The bad news is that if you receive this message, your computer is now infected with a debilitating virus that can be tricky to remove. The good news, however, is that a computer virus is far better problem to have than the real FBI actually flagging child pornography activity that links back to your address.

If such material/activity truly was discovered on your computer or IP address - whether or not it was yours - you can rest assured that law enforcement officers would be making a personal trip to your location in order to arrest you. And they wouldn't give you the courtesy of advanced notice.

Please spread the word to friends and family about this malicious virus, and warn them to not be fooled by it.

Source: KRTV.com, "FBI internet scam warning: Reveton ransomware," Jan. 12, 2013