Old Scam, New Victims

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Knoxville (WVLT) - If you open your email and see an e-greeting card in your inbox, don't open it just yet!

Volunteer TV’s Stacy McCloud has more on why the FBI is warning you to be absolutely certain before opening any attachments claiming to be an innocent internet greeting.

Opening an e-card typically brings an instant smile.

The sentimental sayings or funny songs are especially nice when you get a greeting out of the blue.

But a surprise e-card may be the last thing you want to see these days, because chances are it's a scam.

"Their purpose is to cause your computer to perform less optimally and eventually take your computer to a screeching halt,” explains Stephen Bradley from PC of Mind.

The FBI has been flooded with complaints of internet fraud related to e-cards that contain something called malware, similar, yet more sophisticated, than a simple virus.

"Their are other pieces of software in that classification such as spyware or adware, that are designed not just to cripple the computer but advertise for companies usually outside the US,” tech expert Stephen Bradley says the emails look very real since they claim to come from popular sites like Hallmark or Blue Mountain.

But without the proper anti-virus software, if opened, could be very harmful to your computer.

"You could potentially infect your computer and spread it to others in your contact list,” Bradley explains.

There are a couple things to look for.

The card doesn't typically come from specific name. It will say something generic like "from a family member, classmate, friend, or partner".

It will direct you to "click here" instead of giving you the option of a code to type in on the actual webpage.

And it also could contain misspelled words or symbols in the subject line, an old 1990's trick thought to be gone, but once again filling inboxes and crashing computers across the United States.

The FBI says if you receive an email like this you should fill out a complaint.