‘Green Dot’ hackers demand ransom

The Napa County District Attorney’s Office is warning residents about a new Green Dot Money Pak scam targeting computers.

The typical scam involves phone calls to residents demanding they purchase Green Dot Money Paks to avoid being arrested on a warrant. The scammers usually tell residents they missed jury duty, committed a red light violation or owe money to the IRS, the district attorney’s office said.

District Attorney’s Office Investigator Rich Garcia said the most recent consumer complaint about the scam involves blocking a resident’s computer with a notice from the “ICE Cyber Crime Center.”

The scammer locks the computer with a message that accuses the user of visiting illicit web sites, then advises the user to purchase $300 of Green Dot Money Paks to get their computer unlocked, Garcia said.

The scam is spread to unsuspecting computers through a cyber-net virus or by visiting unsafe websites, Garcia said. To unlock a computer, the scam victims must use multiple search engines on an unlocked computer to find information on removing the locked screen by typing in “Remove Cybercrime Division Virus $300 Scam Step by Step,” Garcia said.

Residents with limited computer skills should contact a reputable skilled computer user to help unlock their computer, Garcia advised.

Garcia said if someone you do not know tells you to purchase Green Dot Money Paks and read the security numbers to them, they are being scammed.

Legitimate local, state, county and federal officials do not call to threaten residents with arrest and demand immediate payment with Money Paks, Garcia said.

Residents who receive such a phone call should hang up and call local law enforcement of the county district attorney’s office, Garcia said.