Fake FBI email scam claims you’ve visited “illegal websites”

6 May 2011

Beware of fake Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) emails which claim that you’ve visited illegal websites. These are scam emails. If you receive one, delete it! Don’t open any attachments and don’t provide your personal details.

How the scam works

  • You receive an email advising you that you have visited illegal websites and instructing you to answer a list of questions, often in an attached .zip file.
  • The email claims to come from an international crime investigation authority, such as the FBI or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
  • The email may be addressed to Dear Sir/Madam.
  • If you open the attachment, it could infect your computer with a virus or malware and give the scammer access to your personal information, such as your online banking passwords.
  • If you answer the questions within the attachment or reply to the scammer with personal details, you may put yourself at risk of identity theft.

Protect yourself

  • The emails are not genuine and they have not been authorised by any authority in Australia or overseas.
  • If you receive an email don't panic, delete it. Don’t click any links or open any attached files.
  • Opening email attachments from an unknown sender is risky. If the attachment is from a scammer, it might contain viruses or malware that can infect your computer and give the scammer access to your personal information.
  • Keep your computer updated with the latest reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Also use a good spam filter and firewall. If you have opened an attachment which seems suspicious, you should run a full scan of your system.
  • Never reply to any email from an unknown sender. The sender could use any information you provide to commit identity theft and to add you to a victim list, targeting you with more scams in the future.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

Users receiving e-mails of this nature are encouraged to report them directly to the US Internet Crime Complaint Center.

You can also report a scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page.

You can report spam to the Australian Communications and Media Authority. If you do not wish to report the message, delete it.

More information

The FBI previously issued a media release on this scam – FBI alerts public to recent email scheme.

You can also visit out our phishing or spyware and key-loggers pages.

Stay one step ahead of scammers, follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.

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