An internet scam is making a comeback in East Tennessee and the FBI wants you to know they have nothing to do with it.
The hoax is known as "the FBI scam". The scam accuses you of being involved in an illegal activity. It then freezes your desktop and demands that you pay $300 in order to have it fixed.
In the past, it has been referred to as the "FBI scam" because an FBI logo used to appear on the announcement. But, over the last year, it has evolved to show other agencies' logos, including the Department of Homeland Security.
"All scams morph and change over time," said FBI Special Agent Marshall Stone.
He said the FBI first became aware of it in 2012. Stone said the scam relies on malware to freeze Windows based computers.
He said the FBI has received reports of the scam from residents in both the Knoxville and Chattanooga areas.
"I think what makes it interesting is they're locking up your computer," Stone said. "So, a lot of people rather just pay the fine rather than take it to someone to get it cleaned."
He said you should never follow the directions posted by the scam. Knoxville resident Rick Weatherstone did not. He recently encountered the scam before having his computer fixed by his son, a computer expert.
He said the scam falsely accused him of committing crimes before it froze his computer.
"It said I had violated some kind of laws and they named child pornography, copyright infringement and illegal software," Weatherstone said.
According to the FBI, the scam attacks Mac computers differently. It doesn't freeze the computer. Instead, it just pops up multiple windows on your desktop.
Stone said you can simply exit out of those windows, instead of seeking the help of computer repairman who may charge you money.