Tech Support Scams Are Still Riding High

By | June 2, 2019
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

 

Tech Support Scams Are Still Riding High

We published this article in May 2017. At that time we were more focused on on the Microsoft support scams that were popular then. Since then we’ve updated this article and still, people are getting fooled by these kinds of scams. So here is another update and another reminder:

So you will not fall victim to these kinds of scams. Read this article and you’ll be better prepared  when you see a tech support scam because:

WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO FALL FOR A TECH SUPPORT SCAM!

Whether it’s a Microsoft support scam or any tech support scam, you need to know that these kinds of scams everywhere and it’s only a matter of time before you’re face-to-face with one.

OH YES! THEY ARE STILL OUT THERE!

We still receive at least a dozen emails each week from folks who encounter these kinds of scams and are convinced their security software has let them down… and woe… now they’re infected. But it’s not true. Most support scams are carefully crafted advertisements cunningly created to make you think these warnings are coming from your own computer your security software or even from Microsoft.

Tech support scams are alive and well and in full vigor. So it is our hope you’ll read this article, look that the images here, so that you’ll know, right away, when you’ve encountered one of these scams… and you’ll know what to do. When we wrote the original article in this series, the “You-have-been-infected-with-the-Zeus-Virus” scam was the ruse-of-the-day. The so-called Zeus virus was really awful sounding, but it’s is and always was a fake. Whether it’s the Zeus virus or some other dreadful sounding name, there will always be a “virus-du-jour”  with the tech support scammer clique.

In the past, most people who have run into the Tech Support or Microsoft Tech Support Scam have been contacted by scammers and warned by telephone that their computers are infected or compromised.

But lately, it’s been the fake “your computer is infected with **you name the nonexistent virus/Trojan** or the **your computer has been compromised and your personal information is at risk** popups that appear, seemingly out of nowhere, when browsing the web.

Just in the past week, we have had at least a dozen people who wrote to us and told us that they fell for or almost fell for a scam. The one that seems to trick the most people is the one we’re going to call the Microsoft Tech Support Popup Scam.

Most all of these fake “Your computer is infected” or “Your computer is compromised” or “Your personal information is at risk” or any of the other dire warnings that pop up out of nowhere, are almost always nothing more than popups advertisements, cleverly disguised as dire warnings. They’re not viruses or Trojans or malware at all. They are advertisements that try to trick you into calling a phone number for support, or clicking a link in an email, or downloading something that they claim will scan and clean your computer. Whatever the angle used, they’re all just scams.

And regardless how many times the scam popups mention Microsoft or show the Microsoft logo, or how many times the ads claim to come from “Certified Microsoft Technicians” … we can tell you with  100% certainty that they’re all scams.

We have warned our readers about these kinds of scams many times, but we are once again seeing more and more people falling victim to these criminals. Many times they’re being tricked because they see the Microsoft logo or Certified Microsoft Technicians on the fake warning, and that convinces them the warning is legitimate and they let down their guard and call the phone number, click a link, or download something and allow the crooks access to their computers.

Please remember this!

Microsoft is never going to show you a popup warning you that your computer is infected or compromised. Microsoft is never going to show you a popup with a telephone number and urge you to call Microsoft Support to fix or clean your PC. Never. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

No legitimate security software company or software program is ever going to tell you that your files are going to be deleted if you close a dialog or window, or that your identity is being stolen and if you click a link or call a number you can stop the threat.  Not even the worst legitimate security software would do that. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

For this post, we’ve collected a few of these fake warning popups, and we posted them at the bottom of this article. Keep in mind, these are just a few of the many variations of scam popups out there… there are hundreds of them. Some have different wording, slightly different colors, some look more realistic than others, but they all have the same mission:  To get you to call a number so they “fix” the non-existent virus infections, computer problems or errors. Or to click a link and download some miracle software that will cure whatever ails your PC.

People who do call will be told that the “technician” needs to connect to their PC so they can run special scans. The scans, of course, are fake and always turn up dozens, sometimes hundreds of infections, errors, and problems. Not to worry, they’ll tell the victim…  they all can be fixed… for a price. We have heard from people who have been bilked out of hundreds of dollars. One person who wrote to us recently lost $1000 on this kind of scam. I just spent 4 hours cleaning up a fake tech support scam and the consequences thereof from a friends computer.

People who download the scam software will run it and find that their computer has 567 or 1296 or 5406, or some scary number of “serious” problems and while the software can find all the problems for you “fre59e of charge”, it will cost you to “clean and fix” the problems. Of course, the “serious” problems don’t exist. It’s just a scam to get your money.

This same technique is used with Microsoft Tech Support Popup Scams, where the victim calls a phone number and the technician runs a scan, then tells the victim that his/her computer is full of problems, viruses,  and other bad stuff  (all fake) then tells them they need to buy a couple of hundred dollars worth software programs (from his company of course) to clean, fix and protect their computer and their privacy.  And – you guessed it – they’ll want your credit card number. If you know the truth, would you actually give your credit card number to a criminal? No, of course not. But because people think they’re dealing with Microsoft or some legitimate tech support service, they give out their credit card numbers and lose hundreds of dollars to scammers. We’re not making this up. We have seen dozens of people get ripped off just as described above.

Please do not fall for these tech support scams

When you see one of these fake popup alerts or warnings, close all your browser windows. If you should see a warning that your hard drive will be wiped if you close your browser, it’s not true. If you can’t close your browser window(s) the usual way, try using ALT+F4. If that does not work try CTRL+F4. If that does not work open Task Manager by pressing the CTRL+SHIFT+ESC keys. In Task Manager, click on the “Processes” tab at the top. In the list of processes, right-click on each instance of the browser you see running and choose “end task”. Note: Google Chrome usually shows a process for every tab open and every Chrome extension running. You’ll need close as many of these as necessary until you see the browser window with the scam in it close.  If you can’t still can’t get the windows closed, shut down your computer at the switch and restart it.

We want you to be safe. Don’t be tricked by these sophisticated thieves and con artists. Remember what you read here and remember what you saw here. Be wary – not paranoid. Don’t panic. Think.  And remember:

Microsoft is never going to show you a popup warning you that your computer is infected or compromised. Microsoft is never going to show you a popup with a telephone number and urge you to call Microsoft Support to fix or clean your PC. Never. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

As promised, here are some screenshots of scam popups. Remember: These are but a few of the hundreds of different scams out there – but most tech support scams use the same basic techniques to get you to call a phone number or download a program or click a link to get help. All the references to Microsoft are just to lure you into trusting the scammer. Microsoft has nothing to do with any of these scams.

SOME SAMPLES OF WHAT THESE KINDS OF SCAMS LOOK LIKE

Cloudeight Internet
The image above looks authentic … very real. Its message is dire. But… this is just a scam, folks. Scam. Scam. Scam.

All of the images below are scams too.

Forewarned is forearmed.  Commit these images to memory so if/when you encounter one similar to these you’ll know exactly what to do.

Above: Looks like your computer is a goner unless you call the [fake] Microsoft support number. Just another scam.


Above: Whoa! It’s that big, bad Zeus virus again. No, it’s not. It’s just another tech support scam.

Above: Oh my! My data is going to be lost or corrupted if I don’t call that number! Woe is me. NO! Not woe is me. It’s just a tech support scam.

Above: Another scam. This one is verbose. All kinds of dire warnings and not-so-veiled threats in this one. But it’s just a scam. It’s a scam I tell ya!

Cloudeight InfoAve
Above: Note the dire warnings that your bank account and credit card details are at risk. In this case, they’re not lying. They are very at risk if you fall for this scam.  As you can see they add your IP address and the date to make it look official. That’s easy to do. This scam has been making the rounds for years.


Above… don’t let all the Microsoft logos and “Microsoft Certified Live Technicians” trick you. This is all a scam and it’s not coming from your computer. Notice at the top of warning it says “Message from webpage”. A dead giveaway that this scam did not come from your PC, but from the Web  Plus if you’re not using Microsoft Security Essentials… DUH! You should immediately recognize this as a scam.


Above: The scam up close. Notice “Message from webpage”. That tells you that this popup did not come from your PC, but it’s just a popup ad from a web page. Notice they don’t use “Microsoft technicians”, but “Microsoft  Certified Live Technicians”. What else would they say,  dead Microsoft technicians? They’re not technicians at all – they’re thieves, miscreants, and criminals out to get your money.

Another “Microsoft” alert. It’s not from Microsoft, it’s not from your PC. It’s just a web page popup ad. Again we have the “Microsoft Certified Live Technicians” back for an encore.  When will they start using dead technicians?  Live or dead, this is just another scam.

Above: 4Are you getting the idea that there is an endless number of scams out there trying to trick you and steal your money? Don’t let them fool you.

Above: A very real-looking scam pop-up, with the Microsoft logo at the top and Microsoft referenced in the body. Showing your IP address may scare some people, but your IP address is visible to every web site you visit. Want to see? Just go to http://thundercloud.net/start/useragent.htm. Your IP is part of the details your browser always shows automatically. Clicking the “Back to safety” button (above) leads you to another scam, and calling the number posted would lead you right tin o the nest of criminals that want to steal your money. It’s just another scam designed to trick you into giving up your money.


Above:  Another scam with a bit of drama. It’s going to delete your hard drive contents if you close this page. However, if you close the page, the only thing that will happen is you’ll be getting away from the den of thieves behind this scam.  Notice that this one tells you to call “Microsoft Support Now!” and gives you a toll-free number. But, trust us, if you do call that number, you won’t be talking to Microsoft or even a technician, but you will be talking one on one with a real, live con artist.

See the close up below. Woe is you! They’re going to delete your hard drive’s contents if you close this page. However, that will not happen. If you close this page, the criminals will just lose a potential victim.

The one below is not as common these days, but it’s still making the rounds. This one’s warning tells you that you’ve got a rootkit Trojan! With the scary name of ROOTKIT_TROJAN_HIJACK.EXE. Wow! They have all the keywords that should send shivers down the spine of most users, but not you!  By now, you know better, right? And notice the Microsoft references. This one has been around a long time. The name of the Trojan changes, but not the scam… it’s the same old, same old.

Just one more.  Take a look at the image below. This scam makes it looks like your computer was scanned and lots of malware and bad stuff was found lurking on your PC. Looks like you better call and get it off or your PC will explode and your privacy will go up in a cloud of smoke (no pun intended). Notice the Microsoft logo at the bottom and the Microsoft Security Essentials logo at the top. Now, if you’re not using Microsoft Security Essentials, why would you ever be fooled by this scam? And if you are using Microsoft Security Essentials, you should know better. Use something else. And you should recognize this as a scam, if for no other reason than the theatrical way they try to get you to call “Tech Support”.

There are hundreds of these kinds of scams out there just waiting to entrap you. Don’t be fooled.

They may all look slightly different, but they all have the same goal… to get you to scare you and make you believe that your computer is compromised or infected – and scare you into calling a number to get your PC fixed. These are scams no matter how many Microsoft logos you see or how many times they use “Microsoft Certified Technicians”.  They are scams if they show you a phone number to call, Microsoft or not. They are scams when they tell you if you close the window you’ll lose all your data.

Want more pictures? OK here you go!

Cloudeight Internet - Watch out for tech support scams.
Windows support scam.

Cloudeight Internet - Watch out for tech support scams.

FAKE MICROSOFT SCAM

Cloudeight Internet - Watch out for tech support scams.

OH NO! Your hard drive is deleted. SCAM!

Cloudeight Internet - Watch out for tech support scams.

Oh No! “Your Windows Key is No Good” Tech Support Scam

Cloudeight Internet - Watch out for tech support scams.

It may say “Netflix” but if you dare call that number, you’ll be involved in full-blown tech support scam.

These criminals want you to call the number shown on the warning so they can run fake scans, that show you how badly your computer is infected, and tell you that even though your PC is very badly infected or compromised, don’t you worry – they can fix you right up for a price. DON’T CALL IN THE FIRST PLACE. DON’T PAY. Do not give your credit card or checking account information to them.

If you have fallen for a scam like these, call your credit or debit card company immediately and tell them you’ve been scammed. Don’t be embarrassed to admit it. Millions and millions of people are tricked by scams like these every year.

Our mission is to help keep you safe. We hope this helps article will help you to recognize a scam if and when see one.

5 thoughts on “Tech Support Scams Are Still Riding High

  1. Gail Bartley

    Thank you once again for such a timely article and information. I had serious problems yesterday although had no warnings at all. I was sure I needed your help but after several hours of hair pulling, tears and a lot of cursing things are running more smoothly. I am not but my computer is happy.

    Reply
  2. Karen

    Thanks for all this information. It is very valuable and worth keeping. Seeing these Scams online and also all the so called telephone Scams we get almost daily is well worth being alert ! Thanks again . Karen

    Reply
  3. Helen Christensen

    Thank you for the pictures and scam warnings. That will be a lot of help when these scams pop up. You both are great with all the information you give. I think I have been with you since you first started and have learned so much from you. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Jason Miller

    I always let them keep talking and then, after a while, tell them I either have an Apple computer, an Android tablet or no computer at all. Then ask why would Microsoft be calling me. Most of the time this catches them off guard and they stumble for an answer and say they they can help me anyway. I push them and ask how can a Microsoft Tech help with, say, my Android? Sometimes I end off with telling them I do not have a credit card or checking account because I do not trust banks. They always hang up after that one. You may have guessed by now, I’m retired and have nothing better to do with my time these days than to play games with these idiots. Thanks for taking good care of us and keeping us up to date.

    Reply
  5. Connie Tyler

    Thank you for the update. I will print off what to do if and when I have to shut down the computer.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Gail Bartley Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *