BY JOHN M. JONES JR.
A new computer scam has surfaced, and the person(s) responsible is(are) apparently trying to hide behind the name of a major government agency.
A local man who was an intended victim of the scam told The Greeneville Sun on Wednesday morning that he was online Tuesday evening at his PC when suddenly a page popped up on his computer screen, The message on the page was represented as being from "Homeland Security National Cyber Security Division."
These words appeared in white against a blue background at the top left of the computer screen.
To the right of that horizontal bloc on the computer screen, in white letters on a red background, were the words "THIS COMPUTER HAS BEEN BLOCKED."
A picture of a locked padlock was to the last of the words.
Several official-looking seals were arranged in a vertical column down the left side of the computer image.
At the same time that the image popped up on the man's computer screen, his computer was locked down.
A message on the screen said that the owner of the computer had violated a law or regulation and that the person should send in money to pay a fine within 48 hours.
Convinced that the message was a scam designed to get his money in a fraud, the citizen tried several times to delete the unexpected and unwanted image from his PC, but was unsuccessful.
He contacted Comcast, his computer service-provider, for guidance about how to delete the image, but he said Wednesday that the person on the telephone said that the company's protective mechanisms could not block this kind of computer message.
The Comcast spokesman also referred him to a Cyber Fraud telephone number.
In addition, the intended victim contacted the FBI, which identified the image as a scam but was not able to tell him how he could delete it to unlock his computer.
Finally, after shutting down his computer several times, he said that he turned the computer back on and was able to get to his control panel and delete all emails he had received in the last two weeks.
With that, the unwanted image was deleted.
The citizen also contacted the Greene County Sheriff's Department, which filled out a report on the situation, he said.
At least one law enforcement agency advised him to notify the news media about the scam as a warning to others, and he therefore contacted the Sun.