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FBI Warning: You Visit Illegal Websites

Netlore Archive: Beware of messages purporting to originate from the FBI (or CIA) accusing you of visiting illegal websites. Said messages are unauthorized and arrive with an attachment containing the 'Sober' virus.

Description: Virus-bearing email
Circulating since: Feb. 2005
Status: Malicious file attached


Example #1:
Email text contributed by A. Edwards, Feb. 22, 2005:

Dear Sir/Madam,

we have logged your IP-address on more than 40 illegal Websites.

Important: Please answer our questions!
The list of questions are attached.

Yours faithfully,
M. John Stellford

Federal Bureau of Investigation -FBI-
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 2130
Washington, DC 20535
(202) 324-3000


Example #2:
Email text contributed anonymously, Nov. 21, 2005:

Dear Sir/Madam,

we have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.

Important:
Please answer our questions!
The list of questions are attached.

Yours faithfully,
Steven Allison

++++ Central Intelligence Agency -CIA-
++++ Office of Public Affairs
++++ Washington, D.C. 20505

++++ phone: (703) 482-0623
++++ 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., US Eastern time


Analysis: If you receive a message like this, don't panic — but do delete it without clicking on any links or opening any attached files. Attachments to these emails contain a worm (virus) called Sober-K (or a variant thereof).

Though these messages and others similar to them purport to come from the FBI or CIA, and may even show return addresses like police@fbi.gov or post@cia.gov, they were not authorized or sent by any U.S. government agency.

FBI statement dated February 22, 2005:

FBI ALERTS PUBLIC TO RECENT E-MAIL SCHEME

Emails purporting to come from FBI are phony

Washington, D.C. - The FBI today warned the public to avoid falling victim to an on-going mass email scheme wherein computer users receive unsolicited e-mails purportedly sent by the FBI. These scam e-mails tell the recipients that their Internet use has been monitored by the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center and that they have accessed illegal web sites. The emails then direct recipients to open an attachment and answer questions. The attachments contain a computer virus.

These emails did not come from the FBI. Recipients of this or similar solicitations should know that the FBI does not engage in the practice of sending unsolicited emails to the public in this manner.

Opening email attachments from an unknown sender is a risky and dangerous endeavor as such attachments frequently contain viruses that can infect the recipient's computer. The FBI strongly encourages computer users not to open such attachments.

P.S. As always, make sure your antivirus software is up to date and your computer is scanned regularly.


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Sources and further reading:

FBI Email Scam Spreads Virus
eWeek, 23 February 2005

Warning Issued Over Fake FBI Emails
CNET News.com, 24 February 2005

FBI Alerts Public to Email Scam
FBI press release, 22 February 2005

Virus Description: Sober-K Worm
F-Secure virus Descriptions


Last updated: 05/04/11


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