Hackers use feds to scam cell phone users into paying up

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Here's what you need to watch out for so you don't become the latest victim (KTRK)

Scammers are finding ways to remotely hack into cell phones and make you believe you're wanted by the Feds. If you take the bait, it could cost you hundreds.

"They have access to everything. They can record you. Record every call, every text," IT Expert Colman Ryan said.

Ryan says this tactic has been used before. But now, there's a mobile twist.

"The FBI or Federal ransom-ware, malware or virus has been around for years, but now I'm seeing it on the Androids," he said.

Ryan says high-tech scammers are fooling their victims into believing they're wanted by the authorities.

"They put a screen that looks pretty official. It claims to be the FBI or a federal agency or the cyber security squad. And they basically lock your phone so you can't do anything with it," Ryan said.

And sometimes there's an audio alert saying something like, "This phone has been locked by the Federal Bureau of Investigations for viewing prohibited content."

And the threats don't stop there.

"Tell you they'll put you in jail for so many years," Ryan said. "And they will snap a picture of you and plaster that on the screen."

Ryan says the scammers will tell you they'll drop the charges if you send them money through a Green Dot money card.

"Well the typical price is $300 to unlock the phone." he said.

But if you send them the money, they still have access to your phone.

"Even if you pay the 300 dollars, it necessarily won't be unlocked and certainly there's going to be remnants of malware on there that they can further exploit you," Ryan said.

Ryan tells us these infections are typically easy to disarm.

"You can typically boot into safe mode on your phone, and just go remove it," he said.

But if the scammers accessed the phone through your Gmail credentials?

"You can change your password," Ryan said.

Ryan says you should also setup a two-step verification with your Gmail account. And to further protect your phone, make sure it's not enabled to install applications from unknown sources.

Recommendations to prevent infection of Android phones by FBI Ransomware and similar malware:

Be sure Android phone security setting "Unknown Sources" is NOT checked or selected.

Newer Androids will have an additional security setting "Verify Apps" which SHOULD be selected.

Install an antivirus that has the "Real-time" scanning feature. Recommended antivirus programs for Android
are: 360 Security, Avira Antivirus Security, Avast Mobile Security, CM Security. All of these are available at
Google Play https://play.google.com

Enable two-step verification of your Gmail account that is used on the Android phone:
http://www.google.com/landing/2step/
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technologycellphonescamhackingaction 13Houston
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