The FBI is warning of a new internet scam called ransomware that's capable of holding a computer hostage unless the owner pays up.
Sherri Brown says her teenage son recently had a frightening message appear on his laptop screen that claimed to be from the FBI.
It said he violated copyright laws by illegally viewing or distributing music, videos or software.
"He was panicking. He thought he was going to get in big trouble from the FBI," Brown said.
The message locked up the computer and ordered Brown to buy what's called a Green Dot Money Pak card to unlock the device.
"What it's doing is holding your computer hostage, until you pay an amount of money,"said computer expert Bill Ramsey.
In Brown's case that was $200. Fortunately, she caught on before it was too late.
"There's a lot of people that aren't technically savvy that aren't going to know that this is a scam and they're going to run right out and buy these cards and pay $200 to these idiots and they're not going to know otherwise," said Brown.
Computer experts call this "drive-by malware" because it's so easy for your system to be infected. You may not even do anything wrong.
"You can get these on legitimate sites. They just have maybe an ad embedded on the page that happens to be infected. User hits that page. The ad comes up. The infection runs. Boom it's on your screen," said Ramsey.
Money Pak cards are legit. The company's website posts a warning about scams, asking people to only use their cards on approved websites.
"It takes money away from hard working people and people that don't have it," Brown said. "It's just really disgusting."
The FBI says it will never seek out people in such a way and won't ask for money over the internet.