Scam artists hack restaurant computer, demand $10K

High tech scam artists want $10,000 from a Rockville restaurant owner.

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- A Rockville restaurant is rebuilding its entire computer system after scam artists hacked into it and essentially held the restaurant for ransom.

The high-tech scam artists want $10,000 from the owner or they'll release the encrypted files. Without those, the restaurant can't serve customers.

However, the owner is refusing to pay the ransom money and is trying to get around the hackers demands.

“FBI confirmed once that happens you have two choices to pay them or just start from scratch and trash everything and rebuild your whole network,” Bob Howard, owner of Hard Times Café in Rockville said.

“I just said there's no way I'm paying these guys because that is not me. My biggest concern is that no one could guarantee if I did pay them the site would be secure for transactions.”

Howard said the FBI agents working on his case told him the overseas hackers also hit eight other businesses on Sunday.

He also said the agents said the FBI can't keep up with the growing number of ransomware cases.

“These guys don't care, they send out thousands of these and figure if they get money, great, if not, too bad.”

Howard hasn't calculated how much this will hurt his restaurant financially. For now, he's just focused on getting the doors back open.

“A lot of anger and a lot of frustration then stupidity when I found out how easy it was for these people to do that. I was like why wasn’t I more aware.”

Howard is confident his computer techs can get the restaurant back up and running this weekend. He also says customers' credit card numbers were not compromised.


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