A Hazel Park woman has a warning after cyber crooks hold her computer hostage.
She says it all started with what looked like a legitimate message from the US Postal Service. Anna Gregory thought she was getting information about a delivery – never expecting she would lose all of her personal information.
“I want people to be aware of what’s going on,” she said. “This has bothered me so badly.”
Anna Gregory hasn’t had it easy – a car accident 20 years ago left her with a debilitating brain injury.
Her computer was her connection to the outside world, but that all changed last week. Anna clicked on a link that said “USPS delivery failure notification.” She was expecting a package, so she didn’t think anything of it.
“I clicked on the link for further instructions and then I got this thing that blew up in my face that said that all my stuff was encrypted,” she said.
Someone or something hacked her computer and is now holding all of her personal information for ransom.
“Through the years I’ve written my son letters that he will be able to see after I die. My father passed away and I had all my father’s pictures on there and knowing these people didn’t care about me or anything I had in there.”
Her son advised her to remove the battery so no more information could be accessed, but Anna, who cannot work, says she cannot afford to permanently correct the problem.
“Every place is quoting me $300 to 400,” she said. “If there are other people out there getting these emails I got, I want them to know about it. It is going to take me a year to save that kind of money.”
Anna reported the hack to the United States Postal Service Police and the Federal Trade Commission – which is working to track down who is responsible.
Sadly, the scheme to steal personal information isn’t new and Anna says the feds told her usually by the time they find out who did this they are long gone.
In the meantime – this Hazel Park woman wants her story to serve as a warning to others – don’t click on unfamiliar links – you don’t know what’s waiting on the other side.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” she said. “The heartbreak and violation, it is so overwhelming.”
There are similar scams fraudulently representing UPS and FedEx, it is recommended to get security software on your computer to protect yourself against these sort of hacks.
The FTC is working to track down those responsible.