Scammers Using FBI And NSA Logos, Claiming Legal Actions And Demanding Payment Via GreenDot MoneyPak

from the the-latest-iteration dept

A few weeks ago, I first heard about a scam in which scammers were calling up unsuspecting people, claiming to be the IRS and saying that the recipient had failed to pay taxes and was at risk of arrest if they didn’t pay up quickly. The caller demands that the money be sent via a “GreenDot MoneyPak,” which is basically the equivalent of cash. Scams like this have been going on for a while now — just do a simple Google search on “scam, greendot” and you’ll find a lot of results. Most recently, the scam has focused either on the IRS, as mentioned above, or local utilities, with threats about turning off your power, phone, etc. New York City even put out an alert directly warning about GreenDot MoneyPak scams.

However, it appears that the scammers have recently attempted to move on from just the IRS and utilities — to two appealing alternative options: the NSA and the FBI. Lawyer David Gingras apparently spotted the FBI version upon visiting a website recently:

Apparently, at least some of these are appearing because of a virus that tries to make it look like the FBI locked up your computer. I particularly like the three reasons why your computer might have been locked up: First up is copyright infringement — which does note “Article I, Section 8, Clause 8” (though later it says “Cause 8”), which is the Constitution’s copyright clause, but here it’s nonsensically described as “the Copyright of the Criminal Code of the United States of America,” and then there’s this, which is so obviously not written by someone fluent in English: “provides for a fine of two to five hundred minimal wages or a deprivation of liberty for two to eight years.” Then there’s the inevitable claim of child porn (though this calls it “child porno” and “article 202 of the Criminal Code”). You’d think for all the effort put into this, they’d at least look up the relevant laws. Finally, my favorite: they point out (somewhat accurately) that you might have malware on your computer, and then say, “thus you are violating the law on Neglectful Use of Personal Computer.” Perhaps that’s the most accurate, except that the fine here is paid for stupidity rather than any actual criminal violation.

Here’s another version, using the DOJ’s logo:

I find it vaguely amusing that all of these scammers highlight the store logos where you can conveniently buy a GreenDot MonkeyPak to help out with the scam.

Malwarebytes claims that it’s seen one of these scams with the CIA logo as well. However, on Friday, the issue apparently became so serious that the NSA put out an announcement about the scam using its logo:

The NSA/CSS is aware of a computer malware scam using the NSA/CSS seals and banner. Victims of this malware report that a pop-up or a locked Internet browser alerts them that they have violated the law and/or are being monitored. The scam may also request that victims pay a fine. This activity and the associated alerts have no affiliation to the federal government, NSA included, and no money should be paid to the scammers. Victims should consult a computer professional on how to address the computer infection. Victims may also contact the Internet Crime and Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center that accepts Internet-related criminal complaints. For more information about malware, users can review the NIST Guide to Malware Incident Prevention and Handling.

Of course, it’s no surprise that with all of the reports of NSA and FBI surveillance and abuse, that scammers would jump on the opportunity to make use of that fear in their efforts. That said, I would imagine that targeting the FBI — which actually does investigate cybercrime — might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers.

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Comments on “Scammers Using FBI And NSA Logos, Claiming Legal Actions And Demanding Payment Via GreenDot MoneyPak”

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Michael (profile) says:

That said, I would imagine that targeting the FBI — which actually does investigate cybercrime — might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers.

Unless the FBI designed the scam, provided the scammers with their equipment and the funding to get this going, and connected the scammers with a terrorist group, the FBI is not going to have any interest in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If the NSA can't find and stop scammers...

The inconvenience of you losing your money is not their concern. Now if they could use it to usurp more of your rights in the name of protecting you then you would get your wish.

Sorry the legal system is not designed to prevent or catch all criminals, its is only designed to make criminals out of people they don’t like.

Gracey (profile) says:

Re: Re: If the NSA can't find and stop scammers...

[quote]Sorry the legal system is not designed to prevent or catch all criminals, its is only designed to make criminals out of people they don’t like.[/quote]

Sure, but if I were the FBI, I think I’d go after these guys out of sheer spite, after all … they’re making the FBI look like fools.

Oh wait … too late for that.

hoare (profile) says:


I have been removing moneypak virus for years now. 99% of the time its from porn sites (Personally I believe it to be 100% but some customers refuse to admit they were at a porn site). When I first saw it years ago it was only $50. The last one just a few days ago was $450.
Besides the logos listed I have seen ICE and Homeland Security.
Also … On the DOJ screen cap, where it looks like there are 2 images, these will be pics of you taken with your webcam. Since you were on a porn site when the picture was taken …. what would you be doing?

Anonymous Coward says:

That said, I would imagine that targeting the FBI — which actually does investigate cybercrime — might not be that wise of a decision for the scammers.

Mike, please don’t lower yourself to the FBI’s level. Call it “online crime”, or “digital crime”, or something. The only place the word “cybercrime” should be found is in poorly-written science fiction. (And poorly-written government press statements.)

Nick (profile) says:

I’d been hit by the FBI virus years ago. It brought up a full screen program that wouldn’t let me access control panel or anything else. I got around it by figuring out that it took a few seconds to pop up when I changed users. That was enough time to bring up control panel and kill the process before it fully launched and locked it down again.

Pretty old virus, actually. Funny how our government demands payment in untraceable money orders.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not the first time a government page was used

Several years ago I got an email at work claiming failure to pay the required US taxes on what appeared to be the same page as the legitimate US Treasury payment site.

I knew something was wrong because I’m not the one who makes these payments and my email address isn’t the address used to make these payments.

Checked the source code and found the hyperlink went to a “” subdirectory. I never found out if this was “”s doing or if they were hacked and was an unwitting host.

brenda says:

fbi locked my friends phone

So a “friend” was watching porn, when all of a sudden an fbi page locked the phone, demanding for him to pay a fine of $500 thru paypal and to pay thru paypal he has to purchase a paypal card from some store that are listed there. Also it had like 4 pages of the fbi within…. couldnt turn off his phone or anything. And it said if it wasnt paid in 3 days he’d be charged as a criminal something like that. Anyways my main point is, is this real or is it a scam.

felicia says:

worried mom

I was on Facebook on my phone and someone tagged me something and I clicked on it to read about it and instead of being what I wanted to read it was kid pornography and was downloaded to my phone and then my phone was lock and and took a picture of me and got my email phone number and my contact and my text I was ask to pay 500 with a green dot card and if I don’t they will contact everyone on my contact list is it a scam or should I worry I have 3 kids of my own and I will ever hurt my kids and I can’t send people who would do things like that to little kids I am a scared mom.

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