San Diegan victimized in ransomeware scam - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diegan victimized in ransomeware scam

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A new cyber scam warning was issued a day after the FBI and law enforcement in 19 countries took down a notorious one-stop-shop for cyber criminals, known as Dark Code Malware. 

Fred George is a businessman who is web savvy, but when he clicked on a site he thought was work-related, a Crypto Wall message popped up.

When he clicked on it, a Bitcoin site came up, and his work files worth thousands of dollars, encrypted. To get them back he needed to pay-up.

George said if it could happen to him, it can happen to anyone.

George is an aviation journalist who writes about planes. When a Facebook user shared an aircraft video, he clicked on it like all the other videos he's viewed. But then, his computer slowed down.

He tried opening videos on his company computer.

"All of the sudden, this message pops up and says, your files have been encrypted," he said.

To get those videos back, he needed to pay up. Getting planes to fly is not cheap. The aircraft videos were worth $200,000.

"My gosh, there is no option but to decrypt these video flies," he said.

Crypto Wall, known as ransomeware operates like a business. There's support and a frequently asked questions section. Dell reports 250,000 Americans targeted from March to August of last year. U.S. Companies are the watering hole websites.

"They extort people and they encrypt our files and then they charge them to decrypt it," said an agent.

George followed the directions and had to pay 500 Euros in Bitcoins.

"As you see here you have the countdown timer, so this tells you that is how long you have to pay before your files are destroyed," said the agent.

George admitted the cyber extortionist have honor. Once they received the payment, he spent $950, he got his files back, and gained a layer of security.

"The people who really have become complacent, as had I about using the web and going to otherwise innocent looking website, it could happen to you" said George.

George and his company were targeted a second time. When his computer started running slowly, he immediately unplugged it.

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