updated 5/3/2011 9:19:13 PM ET 2011-05-04T01:19:13

Online thieves have kicked off a new campaign to steal your money, and this time they're using the long arm of the law to hide their devious scheme.

Researchers at the security firm AppRiver noticed a batch of emails spreading around the Web claiming to be from the FBI, with the accusatory subject line: "You visit illegal websites."

The message informs the recipient, "We have logged your IP-address on more than 40 illegal websites." although it specifies none of the sites.

Such a social engineering scam can resonate with guilty (or gullible) Web surfers. The criminals behind the scam know this and have included a questionnaire with the fake FBI message that, presumably, could help you out of your legal jam.

Of course, downloading the attached document, titled only "" will not help you at all.

Instead, the file will automatically drop a piece of malware onto your computer that is capable of opening "a permanent backdoor on your PC in order to further download malicious payloads such as keyloggers and spyware," AppRiver wrote.

Web users are advised never to open suspicious attachments, even if they come from trusted sources like friends or co-workers. Just a few weeks ago, the government-managed Oak Ridge National Laboratory was hacked via an email that claimed to be from the company's human resources representative.

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