Fact Check

FBI Illegal Websites Scam

Is the FBI after you for visiting 'illegal websites'?

Published May 6, 2011


Claim:   The FBI is after you for visiting "illegal websites."


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2011]

You visit illegal websites

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.


Origins:   Similar in terms of come-on to the 2005 warning about the Sober X virus (which was the real thing), 2011's "illegal websites" scam was presented as an e-mail purportedly sent by the FBI. Those whose guilty consciences (or just plain rampant curiousity) prompted them to click on the attachment supplied found a message popping up on their screens announcing their computers were severely compromised with viruses and that only the purchase of a particular brand of virus software would set things to rights. But of course, alarming message to the contrary, there was no real virus threat. Instead, those duped into opening the attachment sent by "the FBI" had inadvertently downloaded a fake anti-virus (scareware) program onto their computers, one that would not go away until payment was made.

Says the FBI about such e-mailed come-ons: "The FBI does not send out e-mails soliciting personal information from citizens."

Last updated:   6 May 2011


    FBI National Press Office.

    "Internet Alert: Scammers Sending Fake FBI E-mails Seeking Personal Information."

    15 January 2008.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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