FBI “Ransomware” Phishing Scam Affects Mac Users – How To Bypass

Mac FBI Phishing Scam

This is the fake FBI warning affecting some Mac users recently. Click for a larger view.

Update: This scam seems to affect Firefox, Chrome, and other browsers in addition to Safari

There have been reports in the news over the last few days describing a “malware” or “ransomware” affecting Macintosh users that attempts to trick them into paying $300 by posing as an FBI warning. While the situation is real, the details are often being mis-reported.

First, let’s be clear that if you happen to see anything like this, whether on a Mac or a Windows PC, do not pay the $300! It is not from the FBI. It is simply a scam. The FBI would not fine you electronically for copyright violations or distributing illegal content.

Second, while the scam is real, the method of “attack” on Macintosh computers is not a “malware” or “ransomware” as is being described by the media. Rather I classify it as a phishing scam. Do note that Windows computers have been targeted by variations of this scam for at least a year and on the Windows platform the methods of attack are in fact true malware infections. However, on the Mac what the scammers are doing can best be described as a user interface trick with the Safari web browser. While quite alarming and annoying, the attack is not actually infecting any Macs.

Mac FBI Phishing Scam DialogWhen a Mac user running Safari stumbles upon a web site that is hosting the fake FBI warning, the web browser is forced to load up 150 “iframes” that all require a confirmation to dismiss. This unfortunately acts to lock up the Safari browser until the user clicks “Leave Page” 150 times. The user doesn’t know they must click 150 times and the scammers hope that the user gives up and pays the $300 instead. Even if the user Force Quits the Safari browser, by default Safari will always reload any web pages that were previously open. This of course reloads the fake FBI warning web site and indeed it seems that the Safari browser is hopelessly locked.

Fortunately, there is a very simple way to bypass this phishing scam. Oddly enough this simple method is not being widely reported at this time and instead most articles claim that you must “reset” your Safari browser, which has the side-effect of clearing out your history, Top Sites, and other settings you may want to keep. If you happen to stumble upon this fake FBI warning web site, instead of resetting Safari simply follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Click on the Apple Menu in the upper left-corner of your screen and choose “Force Quit” from the menu. The Force Quit window opens.
  2. Make sure Safari is highlighted and click the Force Quit button. This should shut down Safari. Close the Force Quit window.
  3. Hold down a Shift key on your keyboard as you relaunch the Safari browser (usually by clicking the Safari icon on the dock)

Holding down the Shift key while launching Safari forces the browser to not reload any previously open web sites, bypassing the fake FBI warning page. Again, this phishing scam is not a true infection of any Macintosh computers. Once you bypass the fake FBI warning web site, your Mac is completely safe to use. You do not need any anti-virus, firewall, or other security-type software on your Mac to clean or protect your Mac from this scam. You may choose to download and install an alternate web browser such as Chrome or Firefox if you wish to avoid this issue until Apple patches the Safari browser to prevent the method behind this scam from functioning. However, even if you do stumble upon it more than once, your Mac is not infected or compromised in any way. But as I mentioned earlier, if you are a Windows user and you run into this scam, you are likely infected with malware and you will need to have it professionally cleaned.

Update: If you are having this type of scam affect your iPhone or iPad, please read my article that addresses this issues specifically: Scam Web Pages on iPhones: How to Get Rid of Them

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this or any other technology security issue.

  • rhrrs2

    Great read!

  • Thanks!

  • Marcel Vachon

    Fantastic read. Thanks Marcel!

  • Your opinion is extremely valid since we share the same name!

  • Marcel Vachon

    And the same profession!

  • That helps too!

  • Al Varnell

    Here’s an even easier way, courtesy of magmatic.com

    To prevent the loop from running and exiting the page

    Disable Javascript. DO NOT RESET SAFARI OR FORCE QUIT.
    Hit back in Safari.
    Enable Javascript.
    Reset History and Top Sites as a precaution.

  • Excellent tip, Al! Thanks!

  • guest

    it happened in firefox on my mac – not just a safari issue.

  • Trey

    happened in chrome as well

  • joji

    This just happened to me so I forced quit and forced quit a few times and luckily SeaMonkey 2.19 asked me if I wanted to restore session which I hit “no.” I’m using that browser to add this message now.

  • William Willingston

    chrome users?????

  • Esha harmony

    This was very useful this happen to me just a few moments ago on my iPad. I was browsing the web I hadn’t notice right away because of so many sites opening in other browsers on safari. I was damn near scared to death when I read it I had no idea. Although it said my PC was locked I was able to exit out of the browser with ease. The only thing I am really worried is if I have a virus or if the information on my iPad is now more vulnerable to hackers or exposed. Thank you.

  • Apparently Chrome users are affected as well. But again, this isn’t really a “malware” so there’s not much to be worried about if you do get hit by it.

  • Since the iPad (and iPhone) operate differently than a Mac, you may have been hit by the scam, but it couldn’t lock out your browser in the same way. Since this was not a real “malware”, you have nothing to worry about. Your iPad is still a secure as ever. Just close out that window and no more problem (not that there ever was).

  • Jake David

    Thanks for the information. Do you suggest getting any anti-virus or malware software on Mac OS X computers? I understand it is not needed for this but just as a precaution for future use?

  • I use the analogy of a bullet-proof vest. If you live in a war-torn country, where bullets are flying around in everyday life, a bullet-proof vest is probably a very wise investment. If you live in peaceful neighborhood, sure a bullet-proof vest might save your life in the highly unlikely occurrence that someone shot at you. But otherwise it would be a heavy and uncomfortable inconvenience 99.9% of the time.

    Anti-virus programs by nature are very intrusive programs, mucking around deep inside the operating system in their mission to root out malware. However, this behavior increases the chances that something will go wrong and the anti-virus program itself will cause a problem.

    The likelihood of a Mac getting a true malware is so tiny, the odds are greater that an anti-virus program will cause you more trouble than a malware ever would. For this reason I don’t use anti-virus software on my or my family’s Macs. I don’t actively recommend other Mac users do either. But if someone feels that they should use anti-virus software on a Mac, I’m not going to argue much with them. If they feel the risk of using an anti-virus software is worth the tiny possibility of stopping a malware, that’s their prerogative.

    And just to answer the possible follow-up question, there is virtually NO risk of getting a malware on an iPhone or iPad, so don’t even bother worrying about it. As long as Apple controls the App Store and doesn’t allow third-party code to execute, this situation is not likely to change.

  • Tommy Chong

    Thanks! When I first encountered this problem, I used force quit instinctively. I knew the FBI would not demand payment of fines online. Some recommend deactivating Java, going a step back in the history and activating Java again. Both methods are equally simple and efficient. One more tip: If you can’t force quit just hold the power button and restart as you would in a system crash. A little drastic, but it works, and it won’t damage your computer either.

  • Al Varnell

    Just a couple of corrections. I believe you meant to say JavaScript, not Java, which is a totally unrelated technology to JS and not involved with this particular issue.

    And I’m sorry, but shutting down with the power button can most certainly damage the data on your computer in some cases. It should only be used as a last resort and you should thoroughly check things out after restarting. I speak from experience on this.

  • Al is correct about shutting down with the power button. Computers don’t like having the power cut on them, because if the hard drive is in the middle of a read/write operation, the power getting cut can cause data or directory corruption. It should only be used as a last resort if the computer (Mac or PC) is locked up to the point that it can’t be shut down any other way.

  • Ben

    well if look closely to the address, the address is not FBI, it has a “-” sighn and another address… don’t give a fuck about this sign , it’s fake 😉

  • Joe Crespo

    Thank you for all of the helpful information. I actually got hit with this over the weekend and actually paid the ransom. Afterwards, I was able to return to use to find out this is a scam. Any suggestions on getting my money back or is it gone? Thanks.

  • Wow, sorry to hear that. I would contact your lawyer and/or the police. Good luck. Let us know if you get your money back.

  • Gage Bubba Cordova

    that would have been awesome to know about 30 minutes ago just saying.

  • hverso

    Thanks for posting this! I just had this scam on my mac, I didn’t pay the fine and managed to get around it with the resetting but I was worried if my mac was infected..but thanks for clearing up that it wouldn’t be and for the other tip too!

  • You’re welcome! Just curious, how did you find this article?

  • bee

    I stumbled upon this over the weekend also, my dumbass x’ed out of the page before reading the entire thing, I was so freaked out. I was worried that since I was using wifi on my iphone, my iphone information and everything could be compromised and hacked. I’ve lost sleep and haven’t eaten, I’m so scared. Particularly I had the idea that they could hack my facebook or icloud, take my information, and distribute disgusting illegal material to people I know, saying its from me, ect.
    This shit scared me.

  • Nono Ono

    Thanks a lot for this, Marcel. Just happened to me on the MBPr. I force quit Firefox, cleared the cache, “forgot” the site via the history. Found your article by Googling “supposed warning from FBI your computer is locked effect on Mac?”

  • Yes, it is scary, but fear is their weapon. Be assured you are fine, especially your iPhone.

  • You’re welcome! It’s interesting to know that this is still happening even 3 months later!

  • Marlin

    Marcel, have you encountered a situation where after a forced quit the computer will not turn back on? I have this problem currently and there is little information on the topic after the forced quit solution.

  • Al Varnell

    This would seem to be a bit off topic since the article only suggests to force quit Safari, not the computer (which is almost never a good idea). At any rate, I would guess that doing so damaged your OS X and it will need to be reinstalled. Procedures on how to do this vary, depending on what version of OS X you are using, so I recommend you go to the Apple Support Community Forums https://discussions.apple.com/index.jspa for any additional help with this.

  • Marlin

    Thank you for the prompt reply. So long to worry free Mac wold but it was nice while it lasted. I appreciate the forum. Thank all of you for posting.

  • If you did what Al thinks you did (force shut off the Mac), then it is very possible there is some hard drive corruption. The good news is that this is usually fairly simple to resolve with the right resources.

    The first question is what exactly did you do when you “forced quit”? Was it just force quitting Safari or did you shut off the computer by holding the power key down for 5 or more seconds?

    The second question is what is the Mac doing or not doing? Does it chime at startup? Do you see the gray Apple logo? Do you see a spinning logo under the Apple? Does it boot to a graphical screen? Does it crash? Does it light up when you turn it on? Does the Caps Lock key light up when you press it?

    Based on the answers to those questions I might have a better idea of what is going on.

    Once you resolve the core issue, then you will likely go back to a worry free Mac, so don’t despair!

  • Guest2

    Thank you! Just googled to find an answer and your article came up to save the day! I knew it was a scam but glad it’s not harming My mac, and yes this is still happening today, months later. Hope safari fixes this bug.

  • Al Varnell

    This isn’t really a Safari bug at all. If anything, it’s a bug in the infected web page that you visited. The same thing will happen with Firefox, Chrome or any other browser unless you install some sort of javascript blocking mechanism. I haven’t heard of any attempts by browser developers to prevent it, yet.

  • RabbleRabbleRabbleMe

    Not true that if you get it on a Windows machine you ARE infected. It just happened to me. I immediately disabled my internet connection. Shut down my computer and rebooted. When the browser (firefox) re-opened, the page could not connect to the internet so it failed to load. Cleared my history, checked the settings in Firefox to make sure no page had been set as a new homepage, scanned my PC with Hijack This, MS Security Essentials and Malware Bytes. No positives were returned from any of the scans. Restarted the PC again, enabled the internet connection and all is well. So just because you run across this, doesn’t mean you DEFINITELY ARE infected with malware.

  • Good call. Although Windows users should still assume they are infected and scan their computer like you did to be certain.

  • filippo

    Hey Marcel,
    Do you happen to know if this could be happening in other countries under their respective local police?

  • Al Varnell

    Yes, I’ve seen this exact thing being used in other countries, usually citing a national police force (e.g. Scotland Yard).

  • I personally don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if scammers are using the same technique in other countries.

  • Al Varnell

    From what I have read on the subject, it’s the same spammer using tailored pages for targeted countries. These are PC samples of ‘police-themed’ ransomware from various countries http://www.f-secure.com/en/web/labs_global/removal/removing-ransomware#aboutpolicethemedransomware

  • Guest

    Thank you so much! This just happened on chrome on my mac! It’s all sorted now thank goodness.

  • nazzx3sm

    i need help! my safari was affected by the virus and now it wont open completely! it says “it may be damaged or incomplete”

  • Al Varnell

    You should probably ask in a more appropriate place, such as the Apple Support Communities forums https://discussions.apple.com/index.jspa and describe your Mac, your OS X & Safari version along with the exact name of the malware you believe you’ve been infected by and describe what “it won’t open completely” means.

  • sportsguy

    This happened to me yesterday on my mac laptop through Chrome. I forced quit the computer, and restarted it. When google prompted me to restore tabs I said no and clicked the x. I then cleared the history and hit reset browser settings. Everything is working fine now on my laptop. Do I need to be concerned about the virus being still on my laptop. Also do these hijackers still have access to my webcam??? Appreciate your reply and help.

  • Al Varnell

    There was never any virus or other malware. It’s just a scam javascript and would not have involved your webcam.

  • sportsguy
  • I think you have issues with your system, possibly drive corruption or something along those lines. It was not likely that your Safari was corrupted by a virus. It is possible if you shut down incorrectly that this caused a disk issue. Regardless, you should probably have your Mac looked at and given some TLC.

  • Al is correct, there was never any virus or malware. The article you reference is almost certainly talking about a malware that affects Windows PCs, not Macs. I am not aware of any malware that can hijack a Mac’s webcam.

  • You’re welcome!

  • sportsguy

    Thanks for you help. I appreciate the insight.

  • 115028

    my computer didn’t lock or anything but this fbi thing appeared did appear on my screen. It was saying a lot of scary things like child porn, stealing files and music and than it wouldn’t let me leave the page.I was terrified because I was just trying to watch a movie that I didn’t want to pay netflix for. I turned off my computer and rebooted it or set it to a certain time. The next day,I cleaned out the computer, it says normal now but I am still a little worried since I am only an average user and I am not great with computers. It didn’t lock me out when I turned it back on but I read horror stories about these scams. should I be worried and go more steps?

  • Al Varnell

    No, if it’s back to normal then you should be good to go. None of those horror stories you’ve read were written about Macintosh computers or the problem Marcel has described.

  • If you’re using a Mac, you’re almost certainly fine.

    If you are using a Windows computer, make sure your anti-virus software is functioning properly. It may not hurt to run an update and run a manual full scan on your system as a precaution. Obviously, if you see more signs of odd behavior, have it cleaned by a trustworthy professional.

  • Hunter

    This just happened to me in google chrome on my Mac and if considerably freaked me out but I only had to click leave page once and it closed. Thanks for the article about it bieng fake, I just wanted to be sure.

  • You’re welcome!

  • Guest

    When it popped up on Chrome I just turned off my computer and when it came back on nothing really happened…should I be worried?

  • Assuming you’re using a Mac, you don’t really have anything to worry about.

  • Ralph Harding

    I have seen this scam site on my Chromebook. When it first started popping up, I could just ignore it until I was ready to stop browsing. Lately, it has been tweaked to jump in front of any other window I happen to be browsing in. I have to close out the browser and then come back in.

  • alex

    this happened to me, but i only had to click leave page once and that was it. i was so surprised that it was that simple, which is why i went here. i closed out of safari several times and it was normal every time i opened it back up. so i restarted my computer to see if i really just bunny hopped over the FBI scam, and lo-and-behold i did. Thanks for clearing it up for me and my fellow mac-users.

  • I believe updates to the various browsers by this point have rendered some of these scams inoperable. Of course many people still have older browsers that are vulnerable so they keep the scams going. You’re welcome!

  • Jimy459

    Hello – i got the FBI joke and it wasnt funny. Turned off my MacBook Pro and tried to reboot now the computer will not start -i cant boot into Safe Mode either. The progress bar appears and nothing happens until it turns off after 2minutes or so. It seems relatively easy to remove the FBI ‘virus’ but i cant even get to that point?! Any ideas? Just took the computer in and really dont want to pay more money. Thanks!

  • How did you turn off your MacBook Pro? Did you shut it down normally, or did you hold down the power button to force it off?

    Not being able to boot has nothing to do with the FBI scam. It is not a virus nor can it affect the Mac in any way other than jamming up Safari for a while. However, if you forced off your Mac, that can cause directory corruption and possible boot issues.

  • Emily

    I just got this FBI scam on ipad, i just exited and I have no problems accessing anything now but is there something else I should do?

  • No. There are no known malicious softwares that affect the iPhone or iPad so you almost certainly safe.

  • Jay

    Hey marcel thanks I was really worried about this but by reading this article I just found out that it’s a fake. I got a different message from the one above but I basically said the same thing. The second smaller window appeared and I tried to quit many times. I then panicked and hit force quit. Seems like it worked and this article reassured that it was indeed a fake thanks soo much!! *wipes sweat off of forehead*

  • You’re welcome, Jay!

  • John Carpenter

    If you have (if not, you should) sysinternals process explorer, just go to the browser in the list and kill the last entry page. That kills the ransomware thing and gives your browser back to you. Attempts to locate the thing with WHOIS have been unsuccessful, at least by me, that is.:)

  • Sysinternals is a Windows utility, so it won’t do any good for a Mac. The rough equivalent on a Mac would be Activity Monitor, or just force quitting as is described in the article. However, this is a good tip for a Windows user in similar situations.

  • John Carpenter

    In the early days I was a Mac disciple. I got over it, mainly because of the lack of software. Windows may suck — according to Mac users — and it may provide really good targets for the bad guys, but at least readily available and adequate solutions exist to mitigate the bad stuff.
    Cheers, Brother.

  • John Carpenter
  • John Carpenter

    Can you folks still start Mac with extensions turned off? Equivalent to Safe Mode for Windows. If so, you can then go about ridding yourselves of the crapware and reboot.

  • Al Varnell

    Vulnerabilities do not equal malicious soft are. Marcel is currently correct that there are no software threats that use these vulnerabilities to exploit an iOS device.

  • Al Varnell

    OS X does allow a safe mode restart that only loads absolutely essential software, but in general it does not make malware removal any easier. Most malware is installed at the user level, rather than rooting the OS. The Safari browser also allows the disabling of all extensions with a single button which does aid in troubleshooting, especially adware these days.

  • You may want to look again, because Apple’s resurgence has certainly helped the Mac platform. That being said, with virtualization or multi-boot configurations, Macs can run all Windows software if necessary. So there is no disadvantage in software for a Mac anymore.

  • Wow. Extensions off. That’s old school from Mac OS 9 and earlier! Good times.

  • John Carpenter

    Marcel, I made the transition back in 1991 or ’92. Quite happy with my choice. I do have students who have Macs, who use Windows emulators (Bootcamp, VirtualBox) because I hooked them up with it, also because of the software availability.
    Pretty much none of my friends in computer security use Mac. None of us are impressed by the “pretty factor,” and none of us are in the movie industry.

  • John Carpenter

    BTW, I love Sysinternals Suite. What a bunch of well documented and really useful tools.

  • Given the history of the technology industry, which you appear to be involved in, I’m not surprised that you and your colleagues don’t use Macs. But don’t be so dismissive of Apple products as merely being “pretty”. They are extremely capable technology devices, especially considering how far they’ve come in the last 10 years or so, let alone since the 90’s.

  • John Carpenter

    Nobody’s “dissing” Mac, just not into ’em anymore. (My best friend owns a fair share of stock in the company; he considers it his duty to also own MacBook.)

    Plenty of Macs in our Computer Science and IT Depts., purchased for them mostly by somebody else (young students’ parents pony up the money without much resistance); school (U of Hawaii) purchases them for many of the professional staff, (they are, after all, status items). Most of the guys in the trenches prefer Windows boxes of whatever make. They’re adequate to our task, and very affordable. We train Nat’l Guard Cyber — lots of those service people prefer Alienware boxes with tons of Ram, Lenovo ThinkPad, Dell, Asus, and hp. All of them provide more than adequate bang for the bucks they cost.

    Art Dept., Creative Media, Architecture Dept., those are where one finds the heaviest concentration of Mac machines on campus.

  • Felix Seici Jr.

    it just happen to me yesterday is nice to know is fake

  • Wow, it’s amazing it’s still going on!

  • Rufio

    Happened to my friend today, It’s not stopping any time soon!

  • John Paulson

    I had this happen on Safari and found out how to clear it using Chrome. I have 4 browers on my Mac. And in this case having more than one paid off as I was able to go to another one that was not hit and learn how to get out of this situation.

  • NightCore4Lifeee

    thxs a lot Marcel Brown u really helped me cuz this happen to me yesterday and i was freaking out and im using a mac thxs for telling me that this is fake i though my life was over thxs a lot man

  • Yeronic

    I just got this today but im still questioning if its fake or not, because its similar to the one you show in the picture but with very small differences in color and where your pin is. Is there a way i can be 100% sure its fake, like if i were to shut down my windows 8, would it load back up or not if it were real and one major fact that it makes me think its fake is that i can still access stuff like chrome after shutting down my laptop and turning it back on

  • Yeronic

    And also would i cant decide if its fake or not because it has my exact ip address but only says what country i live in and not what state or city

  • Yeronic

    Never mind i just re-read it again and it states “Illegal access has been initiated from your PC with ought your knowledge or consent, your PC may be infected by malware, ” Thank god to the incorrect spelling and comma where there should be a period or i would be staying up all night

  • Al Varnell

    > im still questioning if its fake or not

    If it were not fake then it would be something nobody else has seen and you would be the first Mac user to have actually had their hard drive encrypted. There is currently no known actual ransomware that can impact OS X.

  • Yeronic

    Im not using mac though im using a windows 8 hp computer

  • Al Varnell

    Then you are in the wrong place. Note from the title this article is for Mac users, so may or may not apply to you.

  • The “warning” is almost certainly fake, but the fact that you are using Windows 8 means that you are in danger of having a real malware on your system. You should have it checked out by a trustworthy technology expert.

  • william ellenson

    Thanks a trillion for your help!! (Safari infection on Mac). Good thing I had an alternate computer up and running in order to find your page.

  • You’re welcome!

  • Potato Christ

    Just happened to me like 4 seconds ago force shut down my Mac scared to turn it back on then googled it on my iPad

  • I’ve been getting a lot of hits on this article lately. I guess it’s going around again. Make sure you like this article! Thanks!

  • Rob E. Son

    Same here. I closed Firefox, trashed the whole program and downloaded a new version.

  • Wow, you didn’t need to go that far, but at least you fixed the problem!

  • andrew

    i got the virus and imediatly closed everything deleted all of my history and cookies and shut my phone down. i have an iphone. every thing seems fine but it worries me because i was able to exit out of it so easy and my phone was never really locked. a week later i reset my setting to factory setting without deleting anything on my phone should i do anything else to make sure that it is gone

  • Tio

    It opened on my iPad, am I safe?

  • There is and never was any virus on your iPhone. It is simply a scam web site. This is why it is so easy to exit out of it. You did not need to reset to factory setting, but what’s done is done. There is nothing further to do since there was nothing infecting your iPhone to begin with. Breath easy!

  • Absolutely. Just close it out. It is just a scam web site. There is no virus or malware that can run on a standard iPhone or iPad.

  • You’re welcome!

  • Kevin

    Just happened to me on my mac. Tried closing the tabs, but that didn’t, so I forced quit Firefox, then they went away. I did notice Firefox was blocking popups, so maybe they are trying to do something about it. Initially it scared me, but more you read it, you can tell it was a scam. Law enforcement will not ask you to pay a fine. they will just knock on your door. All in all, just a scam.
    Glad I came upon you site and the info.

  • Great to hear!

  • Jay

    How can I stop ads on my mac?

  • This is a very vague question. What kind of ads are you getting?

  • Kirsten B

    My dumb assed husband just locked up my landlady’s Mac with this crap… thank god I found this article, because I went into full panic mode. I couldn’t get Safari to start with the shift key, it took turning wifi off and then restarting Safari when it couldn’t connect to be able to clear out the history and close all the windows.

    You just saved me a few thousand $$$. Thank you.

  • You’re welcome! Thanks for visiting my site!

  • meghan

    I had this just happen to me on my android cell phone. It pretty much locked up my phone and so I had to take the battery out to restart it. But now every I turn it back on it just freezes and won’t let me do anything. How can I fix it?

  • Well, that sounds like a more serious problem with your Android phone. It is possible that it contracted a malware or perhaps something bad happened when you pulled the battery out. Unfortunately, there are many possibilities, so troubleshooting it will not be simple without seeing it in person. I would suggest troubleshooting it with a local reputable technician familiar with Android phones.

  • Mr_H013

    The same thing just happen to me.(Win7)
    I removed FF and ran spybot and MSI. Found plenty of junk and I went far as release and renew my IP address from Verizon. Scam gave me my IP, that means someone might have it as well. If they have an IP they can search for an open port.
    I do not need anyone to hack my network.
    Not saying that might happen to anyone, just a piece of mind for me.
    Any way thank you.


  • MrH013

    The same thing just happen to me.(Win7)
    I removed FF and ran spybot and MSI. Found plenty of junk and I went far as release and renew my IP address from Verizon. Scam gave me my IP, that means someone might have it as well. If they have an IP they can search for an open port.
    I do not need anyone to hack my network.
    Not saying that might happen to anyone, just a piece of mind for me.
    Any way thank you.


  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much, this happened to me too on a windows PC. I had a box pop up on my chrome browser saying that I was accused of visiting a site with child porn, when in reality I was on reddit. It really scared me and I’m thankful that it was just a fraud.

  • You should go ahead and do a malware scan to make sure you didn’t pick up an infection. Windows PCs CAN get infections from things like this.

  • STSCR0721

    I have an iPhone 5 and it has a new os update ready and something similar to the FBI virus appeared on my phone when I was running google chrome and I just closed the pages and restarted the phone and it seems to be running fine but I’m still worried because when I tried to update some apps iTunes was saying I needed verification from my credit card and i also looked that problem up and it seems to be a common problem that may be unrelated but I was wondering if I should update the software and if there is any antivirus software for the iPhone 5

  • Emily

    Thanks so much! Scary! This worked!

  • There is no known malware that can infect an iPhone or iPad. iTunes may ask you to verify your credit card if it thinks it is the first time you have used a device to make a purchase, which can happen if you just upgraded your iOS. There is no anti-virus software for an iPhone because the way Apple controls the App Store, there is virtually no way for a malware to infect an iPhone, so none is needed or even feasible to develop.

    So feel free to update your iPhone’s software and/or apps as there is virtually no chance you have any sort of malware.

  • You’re welcome!

  • Anonymous

    Hi um I got this message on my Firefox on Mac and I would try and close the app but then it won’t close coming up with the same message saying do you want too leave this page and then I tried force quiting it and went back into Firefox ,and was still showing the fbi message so I force quited Firefox again then after that I opened safari and Safari was fine then I opened Firefox again and it said want too retrieve the last couple of windows so I said clear and I cleared my website history and went back into Firefox and it worked fine , I’m just wondering because there are other sites saying that the virus would still be on your Mac computer even tho it seems fine ? Is this true or is my Mac fine now ? Because I haven’t gotten the fbi child pornogrpahy virus page come up again since ?

  • Al Varnell

    There is no virus. Perhaps those other sites are referring to the real Ransomware that Windows users face. For Mac users it’s just a scam and clearing your cache & history should completely take care of everything until the next time you visit a site with something similar.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much for your reply ! This has made me feel better !

  • Al is correct. I’m curious what other sites claim that a virus would still be on your Mac?

  • Dee jay

    It happend to me a few days ago said I had to pay a fine or be chraged so just to be clear it is a scam it was on my I phone 5 my screen didn’t lock the meassge just poped up I pushed cancel and everything has been fine

  • Yes, it is ONLY a scam and your iPhone 5 is just fine.

  • Nicole

    I try the reset method in safari but it’s not their anymore? I did the force quit as suggested and shutdown but still no reset option when I open safari for preferences etc. When I got the scam I logged out and have yet to get anything else other than I can’t reset safari….could it actually by a virus and my safari is highjacked?

  • Al Varnell

    No, there is almost zero chance of it being actual malware, unless you were the first.

    Safari 8 has done away with the Reset option, so your only choice now is to delete your history, which you may not want to do. As long as you were able to open Safari without seeing the scam any more, then you can probably ignore that part of the fix. If it comes back often, then you’ll have to get rid of the history.

  • Nuboy

    Thanks Marcel. No other advice is as concise and efficient as yours…brilliant.

  • Al is correct. Thanks!

  • Well, you’re welcome!

  • NessNess90

    Hi Marcel! i unfortunately encountered that scam too just a few moments ago..i was on Safari on my iPad and it showed me that scam page very shortly (not even a second)..then my iPad reset itself which really scared me because i thought that stuff took over my iPad and infected it…however after the reset i could open Safari again and the page was still there with all the stupid popups BUT i could close it all with no problems but i’m still worried.
    Now my question is: Did my iPad reset itself to remove the scam OR did the virus do the reset and is probably having undercover access on all my information now?

  • Al Varnell

    There is no virus, here, just a scam, beside which there are is no known malware that can impact an iPad that isn’t “Jailbroke”. I suspect that something about the web page or pop-up format caused your browser to crash. Nothing to be concerned about.

  • When talking about Apple devices, especially iPhone or iPads, this scam is simply a scam. There is no malware or virus behind the scenes. There have been zero malwares that have existed for iOS devices, so you should not worry about getting those devices infected.

    That being said, the iPad probably reset itself due to the browser crashing. Possibly due to the scam trying to load up a lot of pages as that is how it works on the Mac. But again, do not worry. There are no viruses on the iPad.

  • lisajey

    THANK YOU! this worked perfectly!!! You rock!

  • Still happening. April 2015. Thanks so much for the tip about getting rid of this – but it’s still inconvenient to have to stop what I’m doing and deal with this crap.

  • You’re welcome!

  • Yes, it is inconvenient. But inconvenient is a walk in the park compared to the hell Windows users must deal with. Thanks for reading!

  • NessNess90

    Thank you so much for your reply! i’m really relieved now 🙂

  • NessNess90

    thank you! that’s great news!

  • Billy

    Did just as you said on my Mac. It worked perfectly. Thanks.

  • Awesome!

  • jorge

    Hi my name is jorge i was navigating the web i was looking at adultporn and all of a sudden this pop up showed up saying i was watching childporn that is not what i wanted and this letter saying that i was acuse of what they acuse me off i now it was adult porn inow what i was looking for this aint right i am been acuse of this how can i fix this issue it realy bothers me how can i fix it am sure that thats not what i wanted i now can i go to my provider or any number i got to fix this or if they are trying to hack my info thank you

  • This is almost certainly a scam. Law enforcement does not contact you through web pop-ups.

  • jf

    My says “reported phishing website ahead” with a phone number to call. Force,quitting and launching with the shift key doesn’t clear it.

  • That is strange. Are you using the Safari browser or another software to browse the web?

  • johndoe

    Any ideas on how to get it off of my ipad?

  • Simply close the window. There is nothing on your iPad, only an annoying web page.

  • Sebastian Romero

    So this morning I woke up and went to safari on my iPod 5 and the warning message appeared on my screen and said some violations that weren’t true and it also stated a 500$ fine . I’m really terrified and after reading this article I’m still not sure if the warning is fake or not !!! The warning also stated if I didn’t pay the fine I would be arrested by the fbi and do 4 to 12 years which made me even more terrified lol I need help asap plz ! Thx u

  • Al Varnell

    I think Marcel has made it abundantly clear that these warnings are all scams. What type of help are you looking for?

  • Sebastian Romero

    I needed like a firm reassure that it was fake due to the fact that it was on my iPod 5 and not on a mac book

  • Yes, an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch is even more resilient to malware than a Mac. So just close the browser window and it will go away.

    FYI, do not be afraid of these types of warnings, as any sort of law enforcement agency is not going to make you pay a fine through a web site. If you were in trouble with the law, you would at the very least get a written notification if not a personal visit from the police.

  • West Springfield

    i got this ransomware today 6/15/15, while using chrome on my mac. I am currently using the Opera browser to write this. My email address is luke1234a@gmail.com I would appreciate any help. Thanks.

  • The good news is that you can probably clear up this problem by simply following the advice in the article. You do not have a ransomware, but rather a very annoying browser trick by scam artists.

    With Google Chrome, you will need to go into preferences/settings and find the “On Startup” section. Choose “Open the New Tab page” and close or force quit Chrome. Then the next time you open it, it should be gone.

  • Phillipe

    This happened to my phone I opened a page it said that I had to pay 300$ for child pornography or something. Can it happen on your iPhone as well?

  • Phillipe

    If that happens you can report it call 911 and ask for the fbi number

  • These scams seem to be proliferating to almost all devices. The point is the same: they are scams and don’t pay them. On iPhones you can simply close the browser window with little trouble usually.

  • Upon further investigation with another client, you may have had an adware toolbar installed. The simplest tool to deal with annoying adware software on a Mac is now called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac (used to be called Adware Medic) http://www.adwaremedic.com/i

  • edward

    i just cleared my cookies and cache on my iphone do you think i will be good from that virus scam?

  • I assume you had the scam pop-up on your iPhone. If so, simply closing the browser window is enough to get rid of it. Clearing your cookies and cache was not necessary, but doing so didn’t hurt anything either. Regardless, as long as you don’t see it anymore, then you are fine.

  • Sami Jaafar

    man you made my day thanks a lot for telling me that i thought i had to go to a computer specialist after the 24 hour time passes and all my pictures and everything on my phone will be dleted as they said but since the pop in showed nothing happened

  • Peter Crosby

    I was watching adult porn website justporno.tv and first a pop up came on for buying PayPal at cvs or Walmart and I x it out quickly and then a pop up came on that I was watching child porn phishing it had my location and it said iOS never watched child porn or anything this is very scary not sure if it asked for money I x all tabs and reset phone please help this was on my iphone

  • You have nothing to worry about. These things are scams.

  • Kevin Plumeau

    This just happened on my iphone 5c. I can’t make it go away. Is there something in settings I’m missing? Thanks in advance for your reply!

  • Aubrey

    I just read your article after having come across this scam, and let me just say, it put me at ease. I thought l was the only one, and my heart just dropped once reading the scam message! One quick question though, I had it pop up on my iPhone 6, and l was able to exit it by cutting off my internet, closing the safari app, and then quickly exiting out of the message – but what scares me most, is that they did happen to know my town and the state I’m in, as well as my IP address on my phone. Am I safe? Can they report me?

  • Al Varnell

    Your iPhone contains a GPS receiver that, along with knowing what cell towers you are in range of allows any web site to obtain your location and IP address from your browser. You can control this to some extent in your location settings, but that will also limit features that need your location to help you with navigation, weather, etc.
    What are your safety concerns?
    What reason would they have to report you?

  • Audrey

    I have no reason for the report, my fear is that they can somehow get into my phone and track down everything I’m doing!!!
    I have banking information, etc:
    So the fact that they have my IP address is alarming

  • Al Varnell

    No, you phone should be fully protected against intrusion by it’s OS. Every web site has access to the IP address of every visitor unless they invest in a VPN or Proxy service to conceal it. Having it is of little or no use to criminals. I’m sure you phone (and my computer) is being scanned looking for access multiple times an hour, using randomly generated IP addresses and looking for an open port. Again, your OS is there to prevent such access.

  • Audrey

    That’s honestly such a relief to know, I was just panicking and thinking that l had to log out of everything. But from the comments, Apple devices can’t catch malware, right?
    Thank you for the quick response, I just recently fell victim to this popup scam, so it’s nice to know that it’s nothing but just a scam.

  • Carl

    Hey what if you’re using an iPod touch ?

  • I can’t imagine why you can’t close out the page. You would close it the same as you would any other web page on your iPhone. For iOS8 using Safari, tap the icon in the bottom right corner of the screen, which then shows you all the web pages you have open. Tap the X on the left side of the page you want to close out.

  • Everything Al said is true.

    I would add that based on IP address, there are simple lookups available that will show the city and state of the ISP you are using. But that’s about all the information they can get on you based on IP address. And every device/network on the Internet has a public IP address that is simple to query. Think of it like a PO box. People can send things to a PO box, but they don’t know who actually owns it.

  • For purposes of this discussion (and most discussions) the iPod Touch is the same as an iPhone or iPad. They run virtually the same operating system and therefore are virtually interchangeable when discussing software related topic.

    In other words, the iPod Touch is just as immune to malware as the iPhone or iPad.

  • Carl

    So I don’t have to do anything or worry about it? Sorry

  • If you see a scam page like this on an iPod Touch, just close it. There’s nothing to worry about.

  • Carl

    Thank you so much !

  • Joshua

    i had this fbi warning on my iphone6. I just kept hitting ok or cancel and quickly in between I hit the bottom right hand botton that shows what pages I have running and then quickly close out between hitting cancel or ok. it took a few minutes but I stayed at it and the web pages kept droping off and once they were closed all was well again.

  • I didn’t think it would be this hard, but I’m glad you were able to get it closed. Thanks for sharing!

  • Anonymous

    Hello, I have received the FBI attention message as a pop up on my iPhone while looking at adult porn and I clicked on Ok. It never asked me to pay anything. I can’t close that. So , tried to launch google app which redirects me to Safari. Then I got the same FBI message. Clicked on Ok, it’s gone. Do I have to worry? Does FBI issues such notices? Thanks for your help.

  • I’m sure it’s a scam. If the FBI wanted to contact you, they’d probably show up at your door, not send messages through web sites.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Marcel, thanks a lot for your advice. That relieves me a lot. In my case I clicked on something and all of a sudden there were 2-3 pop ups and this message showed up on my Safari in iphone. Sorry, but just wanted to double check that I am ok? Thank again.

  • Annon.88.

    Thank you, it affects cell phones as well, it really gives you a sense of what people can do to get money out of you.

  • Maggiemay

    All the comments above are very reassuring – however my iPad screen is permanently locked with the phishers banner across it, and the only option is to press OK at the bottom, i.e. I can’t close any windows etc., to get rid of it. Don’t want to do this as it immediately goes onto a demand for a cash payment! any further suggestions would be great – otherwise its a trip to an Apple store

  • Al Varnell

    Do you not know how to quit an application? Just press the home button to get back to your desktop. Now press it again twice and you’ll see the browser (Safari?) icon on the bottom left. Press and hold the icon until it wiggles and an “X” appears in the upper left corner. Click the “X” to quit. Press the home button once more to get back to the desktop.

    If it’s still there when you open the browser (it should not be) hold the home button and the power button down until the shutdown slider appears. Shutdown the iPad and restart it with the power button.

  • maggiemay

    Hello Al,
    Thanks – I omitted to say that the issue is on Safari only, not Chrome, on my iPad. We installed Chrome which is working fine, with no issues, and the chrome browser in the tool bar on the bottom left hand corner of my screen. The issue is only on Safari, however there is no “wiggly x” on Safari, just on all the other applications. So I have been unable to delete Safari

  • Al Varnell

    I don’t want you to delete Safari, only quit it. Hit the home key twice to see all the active applications at the bottom of the screen. That’s when you want the wiggly “X”, not on your desktop.

  • carl weston

    This happened to me tonight. This scared the daylight out of me. I contacted my ip company and was told that it was a scam. Marcel, you are correct that fbi would come to your door instead of a pop-up box. If this was not the case, I would jump off the cliff out of shame. Now I can breathe…

  • Al is right about hitting the home button twice while at the home screen. However, the wiggly X system was in older iOS versions. Now you will see the app switcher screen. If you swipe up on any app, it will force it closed. That should help you out.

  • Guest

    Okay I’ve read all this and felt some ease from it, but if it was real.. About the fbi wanting you for pornography how could they catch everyone? There are millions of people who watch porn.

  • It’s not real, because watching porn is not illegal and it would be extraordinarily difficult (and probably illegal) for the FBI to try to monitor what people are doing on the Internet to that degree.

  • Mike

    Just happened on my iPhone 6 I got real scared I never seen this Before should I worry

  • Mike

    Yo t hat happened to me I was like wtf is this got mad scared

  • Joe

    Dose anyone have a screen shot of the accusations/ scam on there iPhone to make sure everyone is talking about the same thing

  • Al Varnell

    There are dozens of these scam popups in many different languages, but they all work the same way and are only a threat if you follow through with what they insist you do for them. Just follow the instructions above and everything will turn out fine.

  • Karina Reitz

    I think this happened to me a day ago. I didn’t read what was on the screen because I freaked out and closed all my tabs but on the screen it said FBI alert and the whole you’re watching banned pornography popped up in a prompt. My iPhone is fine but I’m still confused haha.

  • Mogitin

    the question is: is this just a bullshit scam

  • Mogitin

    watching a movie you Have to pay for but DID NOT pay for is just plain piracy

  • Basically, yes.

  • Don’t be confused. You’re fine. It’s just a scam. You closed it so now it’s gone.

  • 1122000

    This happened to me on my iPad and I’m terrified. I was not looking at child porn or anything like that. The message was full of scary words and although I’ve read about scams with the exact same case and picture of what mine looked like, I’m still worried it could be real.

  • Allecia

    I just happened to me
    On my iPhone so apparently it’s branching out to phones now too… Slightly terrifying and by slightly I mean I almost cried

  • Chantal Mongrain-Hanson

    Oh God! Thank you!

  • YouFree6

    Just read this and through all the comments. Problem is what if it’s too late and you already paid the money is there anyway to get your money back? Bank said I could file a dispute?

  • Kevin

    This just happened to me. I freaked out. I was watching adult porn and up popped this scary message saying I’m accused of child porn – I’ve never! I broke out in a cold sweat. I was able to reboot my phone and it went away.

  • If it was real, you would be making news headlines as the first person to have the FBI contact them through a web page pop-up.

    Fear is the scammers weapon. Of course they use scary words. They want you to react out of fear before you have a chance to calm down and think it through. If you have read about other scams exactly like this, then why are you still worried?

  • You’re welcome!

  • It depends on how you paid the money. Usually the scammers make you pay with Moneypak or some other method that is basically a cash transaction and there is almost no way to reverse it. If your bank says you can file a dispute, then I guess I would find out exactly how they think that is possible and follow their advice. If you somehow paid with a credit card, then you probably have a good chance of reversing the charges, but the scammers usually are smart enough to not take credit cards.

    Usually all you can do is talk to a lawyer and file a complaint with your local police and/or report the scam to the FBI. But I’ll be honest, I think there’s very little chance of getting your money back.

  • 1122000

    I think I was just worried because it look so real- thank you for the reassurance though!

  • New here

    I’m so glad to be reading this… Same happened with me! Child pornography, had my city with an IP address. I panicked and just closed everything out… Didn’t even see a part asking for money, I was too scared!! Weird how even though you (and I) were doing nothing of the sort, we still panic. Glad to know it’s a scam!!

  • Louie Cano

    It just happened on my iPhone 6 and IPad Air with in 5 minutes of each other. We were both running safari. I closed the page that is was running thru which was a redirected page, cleared the Internet history, and did a had resets on both devices. Everything seems to be running fine now.

  • I’m glad you are fine now, but know that generally all you need to do is close the page that the scam is on. Clearing the history won’t really hurt anything, but it wasn’t necessary and the same thing for the hard restarts.


    Me too! It wouldn’t close it said I was watching child porn??? It said I had to pay a $500 fine and that audio and video recording has started and if I didn’t pay in 24 hours all my photos apps and music would be deleted I wasn’t even on anything close to that in safari??

  • Jamie

    Did yours pop up the way an amber already would? Mine kind of looked like an email or amber alert badge.

  • Jamie

    On your iPhone did it pop up like an amber alert would? Mine sort of looked like and email or Amber alerts badge! Just seeing if anyone experienced the same. iPhone 6

  • Jamie

    Did yours pop up like an amber alert would? Mine kinda looked like an email or an amber alert badge.. iPhone 6

  • Jamie

    My iPhone6 did not lock so I’m not sure if it’s the same as others. It popped up as an amber alert would or an email badge (while I was on safari). Showed my ip and city (well a close city nearby). All I read was “FBI WARNING” “you have been accused of viewing…” “investigation” “CP” “fines/jail time” I SWORE I read the word “Walgreens”. Totally was freaking out and trying to exit out as quick as possible. Don’t remember reading anything about a money Pak .. Which freaks me out as well (bc everyone else has I guess.. But then again I didn’t read everything due to the fact I was hyperventilating lol) I closed out erased my history and my phones been fine.. Should I be ok? It’s been over 24 hours..

  • guest

    Had this on Reddit, from a fraudulently labeled, bait+switch post , unrelated to anything sketchy. It’s alarming on a visceral level, even if rationally you know it’s a scam. The accusation is so toxic, heinous and shocking that it generates a flight- or-flight response. Never would seek out anything so repulsive or criminal, so the faux-official alert popping up from a Reddit link is alarming on many levels.

    Closed/cleared the browser, reported the link to Reddit, abd deleted my account, for peace of mind.

    Your expertise helped restore that peace of mind. It’s Kafkaesque, getting caught up in insinuations of awful things you neither asked for nor sought out .

    I would have thought Reddit’s bots would shut down or alert , but that post had been there for weeks.

    Any advice on dealing with bait & switch links that lead to stuff like this, beyond Click Nothing? I did nothing wrong wittingly, but my fear of being connected to something as toxic as what this scam implies still is there , irrationally . lives have been ruined by things like this.

    Again, thanks for the logical, reasoned perspective .

  • It’s almost certainly a scam. The FBI doesn’t do warnings on web pages. If the FBI wanted to get hold of you, they’d visit you personally.

  • I would guess that bait & switch links are usually connected to things that may seem too good to be true. So just be careful where you venture online. There may also be some newer security software/services that may help with this. I’m investigating some currently.

  • Francisco Politron

    So what do i do before the 24 hours is over cuz i got the 500$ dolar fine notification about all my apps getting deleted what should i do ????

  • Al Varnell

    Close the window and get on with life. Have you not read anything here? It’s a total scam.

  • Francisco Politron

    Wait so nothing is gonna happen ?? Is my iphone 5s not gonna get locked or anything of the sort ??

  • Francisco Politron

    Wait so nothing is gonna happen ?? Is my iphone 5s not gonna get locked or anything of the sort ??

  • Correct. On an iPhone you have nothing to worry about. “They” can not delete your apps or do anything to your iPhone. They are simply trying to scare you into paying them money. That’s the whole method to these scams.

  • Elgwada01
  • Jack I

    This scared the crap out of me. I had to turn my iPhone off and then restart and put it in airplane mode to delete the page all fine now.

  • Angie Kent

    I just got the scariest notification I have ever received in my life.. I was on my phone on safari when out of no where I got an alert that I couldn’t back out of that claimed I was accused of child pornography and to pay $500 through I think it was PayPal or some things were going to happen. I almost started crying because I didn’t know what to do and thought that somehow someone placed this obvious scam in my face. I don’t know a lot about technology, so I was panicking thinking that I was in trouble and I was going to get reported for something I never even did. When the alert wouldn’t let me cancel it, I double clicked the home button and quit Safari. I don’t know what safety precautions I should be taking, but I am so scared.

  • Michael Almuina

    What if it happened on an iPhone should I be worried or have to go and get a new phone

  • Michael Almuina

    Thank you sir I was just trying to watch a movie on the Internet and I got seriously scared for a minute thank you sir your awesome

  • Al Varnell

    No need to report it, there are thousands of these every day and everybody that needs to know about it has been working on the problem for several years now. Browser developers are just now starting to come up with ways to help put a stop to these, but that’s probably several weeks away for mobile devices. Just learn from the experience and get on with life.

  • Al Varnell

    Quit Safari (or whatever browser you used) then go to Settings->Safari and clear the history. There is nothing on your iPhone that caused this.

  • Michael Almuina

    Thanks I was just watching a movie on the Internet and bam the message kept popping up but it’s good to know nothing will happen

  • Michael Almuina

    Did you get locked out or no

  • Michael Almuina

    There was also a page offering anti virus cleanup and services to clean the phone out which I’m guessing is a scam as well huh

  • WorriedGirl

    This article has made me feel so much better! I was so freaked out at first but then I realized the FBI would not be making me pay money to shut down an investigation on me. The message popped up on my iPhone 5C like an amber alert while I was on safari. It didn’t lock up my phone or anything like I’ve read from other people’s stories. My main concern is that my phone and Mac are connected through iCloud so do these hackers have access to any information on my phone or computer? I’ve read that they can access information so I don’t know if I should reset my devices. Please help!

  • Al Varnell

    Yes, that’s the Tech Support scam that has been around almost as long and uses the same javascript technology as the original FBI scareware. There are is no known malware that can impact a fully up-to-date and not jailbroke iDevice, so don’t waste any time looking for working anti-virus apps or other service. There are no such things.

  • Al Varnell

    Hackers would have needed your iCloud account ID and password in order to gather such information and no changes to your devices would fix that problem. If you suspect that you just need to change your iCloud password and check to make sure nothing in your account was changed. And that kind of invasion would not be related to the alert pop-up. The last thing those criminals want is for you to be aware that anything happened. What we are discussing here is a scam. Information harvesting that you are referring to is an actual invasion. There is no connection between the two.

  • Boo boo

    I think many people hear experienced this already, but I was viewing porn. And then this thing popped up. It had my city/ location ect. I was too scared to read it all. But part of the message said something like “you have been accused of viewing child porn, pornographic videos.” Ect. And another part said something about 500$ fine. And a “24 hours” deadline type thing. I was on my Ipad. I just double-tapped on the home button, “swiped” the safari thing, went back in, and then deleted the website tab I was on. And I never saw that message again. I nearly started crying. Was it a scam? I’m scared. And private browsing was on, when I saw it.

  • Boo boo

    Oh and private browsing is still on, btw

  • Al Varnell

    You are exactly right. Many people [here] experienced this already, so why not read all about there experiences and get back to whatever it was you were doing instead of reading this article

  • Boo boo

    Okay. Thank you. I just wanted to be sure, because that message scared me so much that I nearly fainted.

  • Ben

    Does this happen on iPhone too?

  • Ben

    This is what it looked like for me

  • Be

    Looks like this right on iPhone ?

  • Be

    So it looks like this Marcel

  • There’s really nobody to report anything to since you weren’t defrauded and you don’t have anything concrete to report anyway. There’s not really too much in way of “safety” precautions you should be taking other than simply not falling for these types of scams. Breathe easy!

  • Yep, that’s a scam.

  • Angie Kent

    I’ve read that people have gotten charged because of this scam! I was just really worried.

  • Al Varnell

    Where, exactly did you read that? There have been many people who have paid these scammers, but I’ve never read or heard of anybody being charged with anything. I can’t even imagine what type of crime that would be.

  • For all those people who are having problems with this type of scam on an iPhone, read my latest article: http://marcelbrown.com/2015/08/27/scam-web-pages-on-iphones-how-to-get-rid-of-them/

  • James Punay

    Hi! I was wondering if this would go the same for iphone users. Or if you have any tips for iphone users encountering this problem as well? Because recently I had a scenerio where while i was watching “adult content” I was all of hit with a FBI notice that involved the same thing of paying a fine from $100-$500. please help! REALLY AM SCARED! D;

  • Al Varnell
  • Gabriel R

    Omg this scam as you said it is, scare me
    They were accusing me of watching childporn
    which is completely false And it was asking me for $ 500.00 within the 24 hours
    It happened in my iPhone 6

  • Al Varnell
  • Guest

    Please this is the exact thing that happened to me what do I do

  • Al Varnell
  • kelsey

    this same thing happened to me today. I was definitely freaking out. terrified because I was looking at things not anywhere near porn atall and this happened. this site really helped out. although my internet will not exit out of this screen. my safari wont work atall. just keeps showing me the pop up. so im afraid my iphone 5s will crash. right now I am using my computer and allowing my iphone to restart.so hopefully this problem will go away soon.

  • Al Varnell
  • Tom Ag

    This just happened to me as well my heart sank and I was tempted to call the police I’m still nervous bc that’s a crazy pop up message and scam accusing me of child porn… It’s nice to no that I’m not the only one this happened to be that I’ll b ok

  • Missy

    The same thing happened to me a pop up saying I viewed child porn. An that I have 24 hours to pay $500 I was really scared an crying happened about 7 hours ago . I’m glad to know I’m not the only one . I wanted to call the police too so I know what you’re going through really scary . Glad to know I’m not alone an it has happened to others !

  • diego

    i got the exact same thing on my fone

  • Al Varnell
  • diego

    exacat thing JUST HAPPENED TO ME

  • diego

    it wanted me to pay 100,000$ omg and i wuld never watch child porn wtf. im only 16

  • Kelsey

    I was watching “Friends on Netflix” and that FBI warning came up that I was trying to view child pornography. I would never do anything like that. It asked me to pay 500 dollars or I would be subject to criminal prosecution. What should I do?

  • Al Varnell

    Exactly what it says in the article. It’s a scam!

  • lol56

    Got attacked by these pricks just now. I figured it was a scam.

  • Guest

    Does anyone know how to remove it from the Iphone?

  • Jenny

    I need help badly I got this spam link and I went on it and it turned out to be porn and I was shocked but then this long thing from the Fbi came up with my location saying I’m watching child porn and that I need to pay a fine or I’m gonna go to jail I’m only 15 and I restarted my I pad and I did many other things and it won’t go away and it won’t let me do anything on SafariSafari

  • Doug funnie

    It hAppen to me too it was scary

  • Al Varnell
  • Al Varnell
  • Jessica

    oh my god i had the same thing on my phone and it freaked me out :'(. i was crying for 2 days now freaking out. im worried if this will effect my phone or my phone bill :'(.

  • Al Varnell
  • joe

    Will this scam encrypt or download illegal content? This has happened to me twice. Im never going back to the websites where this happened to me. One was a porn site and i wasnt and will never ever look at something as disgusting of what they accused me of. This scam is so disgusting! I read a article that said some scams will encrypt or download unbeknowst tp you illegal content. One lady commented that she called the police about the scam and they took her phone away saying it wouldnt have popped up unless she was watching illegal porn. This whole thing has me a complete mess.

  • joe

    I was using my iphone 6 at the time

  • Al Varnell

    Did you bother reading this article or maybe you should read the one on iPhones http://marcelbrown.com/2015/08/27/scam-web-pages-on-iphones-how-to-get-rid-of-them/

    Scams don’t affect anything but your head. The real FBI “Ransomeware” will only encrypt the files on a Windows PC. There is currently no threat to Apple computers or iDevices.

  • joe

    I know its a scam dont get me wrong but that article saying it encrypts hidden stuff has me worried! Has anyone else heard pf this?

  • joe

    Thank you for the reasurrance!

  • Al Varnell

    What article? Certainly not the one above. It specifically says “while the scam is real, the method of “attack” on Macintosh computers is not a “malware” or “ransomware” as is being described by the media. Rather I classify it as a phishing scam. Do note that Windows computers have been targeted by variations of this scam for at least a year and on the Windows platform the methods of attack are in fact true malware infections. However, on the Mac what the scammers are doing can best be described as a user interface trick with the Safari web browser. While quite alarming and annoying, the attack is not actually infecting any Macs.”

  • joe
  • joe

    This is what i read

  • joe

    This is totally different from the stuff that popped up in my phone though. it had my IP address and said i needed to pay 500 to paypal.

  • Al Varnell

    None of that applies to an iPhone that has not been jailbroke. It cannot be done. And the article is nine months old.

  • joe

    Alright thank you Al Varnell

  • Wow, thanks for sharing that info! I had not heard of this type of scam before, but it definitely is a new method of blackmailing people. I did read the comment from the one person who took her phone to the police and had it confiscated. My advice for anyone like that would be to talk to a lawyer before contacting the police (that advice is usually good for almost any situation).

    But as Al has already said, the bottom line is that this type of stuff does NOT affect iPhones or iPads. The ONLY possible exception at this time is if you have “jailbroken” your device, which is not something you can do accidentally. Any who has the skills to jailbreak their iPhone should know exactly what they are getting themselves into, so I generally don’t even mention jailbreaking as 99% of people don’t do it.

    I really wish people who wrote articles like that would take the time to specify that attacks like this do not affect “smartphones”, but only Android phones (and possibly Windows phones). I’ll post something on her comments to that effect. Thanks again for sharing!

  • joe

    Thank you Marcel Brown.

  • Llits

    This is what I got on Google Chrome on my Macbook. It accused me of watching child pornography and told me that if I don’t pay this fine, I’m going to prison. I restarted my computer. It hasn’t popped up on my browser again. The website is also crazy looking.


    I’m not sure if it’ll mess you up if you click on it, but this is what I got. It also had my IP address and location in the top corner. Hopefully nobody took anything or uploaded anything to my computer. I can’t afford to go to jail for something I didn’t even do. Or wanna do!!!

  • Al Varnell

    Did you read the article? This is only a scam. No harm can possible come of it unless you send the money. Go back to living your life and don’t give this another thought.

  • Right, since you restarted, it seems the page is gone now. You should be fine. No one could have taken or uploaded anything from your computer. No law enforcement is doing this. These types of pages on Macintosh computers are only scams and have no malicious code. They look scary but that’s all they are.

  • 111-2

    I just had this message last night!! Although this is a scam my concern is are they now using my phone to share illegal content to others and I have no idea of it until it’s too late? Are they able to break into my iPhone and basically stream all of this filth?

  • Al Varnell

    I can only guess that you don’t understand what a scam is then. It’s just a message that has been displayed on your phone. There was no damage, no break-in, no sharing. The only danger is that believe it and pay the “fine”.

  • 111-2

    Ok thanks! I do not remember them asking for $$ though. A couple of replies up “Be” replied 25 days ago with an actual picture of the pop up that I received. I did not read the pop up in its entirety, I just wanted out of it. So I’m just making sure everything is ok and my wifi is not vulnerable by them now. Thanks

  • Robert jordan

    This happened to me tonight on my android phone . said I needed to pay a250.00 dollar fine had the official logo and everything .this crap is scary

  • Most likely you are fine, but because you have an Android phone, I can’t say for certain your phone is not infected with some sort of malware. Be cautious.

  • Anon

    I found out how to fix it. turn off your wifi and delete your history and website history

  • guest

    idk i just got that and it was on a unjailbroken iphone 6 plus…

  • Spider pig

    I got so scared when this happened to me. All I was doing was looking in my emails and I got this spam link to a website on my iPad. My heart was pounding out of my chest when that message popped up in Safari. I was trying to exit the page, tapping the x button so fast, but it didn’t work. I literally started to cry and didn’t know if I should have told my parents about it. I’m only 13 and I would never look up child pornography or any pornography at all. I thought I was really going to be arrested for something I didn’t do. Thank you Marcel for telling me about this. I for real thought the actual fbi. People need to get a life these days.

  • You’re welcome!

  • Laura R Gullett

    First off you should pay for movies, not cheat people by doing piracy. Secondly, don’t let text alone on a screen like that warning scare you. Notice that all of the information on that screen was public information that anyone could copy and paste to it. There is no way to know if anything is laying dormant, but glad all is good for you after rebooting. Not sure what you mean be the time. Did you reset the time? Well this post was a long time ago though. I write comments hoping they will help someone else out there too.

  • Laura R Gullett

    Oh so sad. Please don’t let bad people do that to you. It’s only text on a screen. You know who you are in your life. If it does not pertain to you, then you know it is from some scammer who does not deserve your time.

  • Laura R Gullett

    All government agencies are controlled by laws that they have to follow. Those laws are enforced by the court system. The court system is controlled by the constitution. That means no government agency would ever simply notify you via your phone like that. Don’t let this stuff impact on any of your decisions in life. Citizens have a right to report and verify anything that appears to come from any governmental office. Never respond back to the scammer from that notice on the screen. Only report it to local government, or law enforcement, because you can see in front of your eyes that they are legitimate enough to report this too. You can see from your phone who is sending the message. Also make sure to ask your family for guidance.

  • Laura R Gullett

    I can deal with it in Windows np 🙂

  • Laura R Gullett

    You know what you are doing or not doing. I’m sure you have good family that can help you out. It is really disturbing for people to feel this way. Your family is there to help you deal with all of the bad things that people do in the outside world. That’s a bigger job when you include the entire globe on the internet, so always take a deep breath and go back to realizing you know the truth. Don’t accept such scam emails. I know when I receive them, I want to find out who did it and punish them for it, but all I have the power to do is report them, being that I know how to read header files.

  • Yes, but you are a technology professional, where most people aren’t! I know it’s hard to believe, but most people don’t find cleaning up malware to be fun 🙂

  • Laura R Gullett

    No kidding. If they would LISTEN then they would not have as many problems either. I have repeated several times for people to NOT click on links and to use common sense. The government and big corporations want control, but things like the constitution get in the way by providing citizens the right to fight back. THAT is why people need to understand and rely on common sense where the government and big corporations would always want a paper trail such as using snail mail certified letters where they can prove they sent x notification to x person, never in any email or even phone call.

    Again here is yet another example of not understanding why anyone would ever believe these people who are doing this ransomware BS. Never ever pay or give power to any criminals or anyone who it trying to take from you. Do NOT trust links in any emails. Go to the legit homepage instead. It doesn’t matter if it’s inconvenient. Being responsible is what gives the user more control of their own life and their own information.

  • Joshua Sulwer

    This happened to by buddy on a facebook game on his iphone, not that it couldnt also effect android phones… hes on the phone w verizon right now for 2 hours and still working on it so im looking for iphone solutions for this… thanks

  • Hopefully you read the article again all the way through and saw that I linked to another article I wrote later: http://marcelbrown.com/2015/08/27/scam-web-pages-on-iphones-how-to-get-rid-of-them/

  • zerohedge

    I just got it today. It was an audible message along with warnings not to do any banking online and to call a number. It listed an IP address…don’t know if it was mine…and referenced a nearby town.

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  • Amandarae

    CCan not acess anything on my zte track phone

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