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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27419
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Accusation via iPhone that I've violated article 161 of US

Customer Question

Customer: ***** ***** Accusation via iPhone that I've violated article 161 of US criminal law. I wasn't sure what to think so I searched the internet and came upon the article 161 scam. I'm trying to figure out what is really happening.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: I was on sites of questionable ethics, but sound legality, and the FBI notice that I had violated Article 161 of US criminal law. The notice said that unless I paid a fine of 500$ with a GreenDot Prepaid card or Walmart MoneyCard. The notice has stopped me from using search engines on my iPhone. It says that if I don't pay the fine in 24 hours all photos, movies,games and documents will be deleted.
JA: OK got it. Last thing — JustAnswer charges a fee (generally around $18) to post your type of question to Criminal Law Experts (you only pay if satisfied). There are a couple customers ahead of you. Are you willing to wait a bit?
Customer: Certainly. I've also seen previous answes to the same general question on this websites background so I think I know what's going on.
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Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

Thanks for requesting me.

I can confirm that you are in no kind of trouble. This is what's become known as the FBI scam.

There is NO such thing as Article 161 of US criminal law. There are 51 separate bodies of criminal law in the US and none of them has that name.

Our government needs a warrant in order to access your computer files. They can't just snoop behind your back and appear on your screen like this. Nor can you be fined without due process -- the opportunity to contest charges in court.

Actually, this is more than a well-known scam. It's a fairly nasty virus that locks the phone and tells you that you're going to get arrested if you don't send several hundred dollars to an "FBI or Homeland Security Agent."

The longer you leave the virus on your machine, the more difficulty you can get into. Not with the law, of course. The law has nothing to do with this. But not only does the virus scare you into thinking you're about to be arrested for a sex offense if you don't pay up, but it plants spyware which can lead to hacking and identity theft, and the spyware is the only real problem you've got.

You can read many scam warnings about this fraud. And here's one from the FBI , which does assure people that they are not at all involved in this particular scam.

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2012/august/new-internet-scam

It is not illegal to visit porn sites so long as they don't feature minors. And when Federal authorities want you, they don't give you warning and provide you with the chance to erase your hard drive or skip town or offer you a chance to buy your way out of the situation for a mere $500. They just show up at your door and surprise you with a warrant and take your electronic devices with internet acccess and/or you away with them after they've finished searching your premises.

Call your phone carrier and ask them about the FBI android scam to learn how to debug it, or ask one of our computer experts on this site how to get rid of this virus, and they can walk you through it. There are solutions to get rid of it on the web, but it's hard to know what's reliable and what will just add more spyware.

Once you've been "debugged" you'll have your computer will be as good as new. Then you can change passwords and pin numbers.