A new computer scam asks users to pay $25 for bogus security software.
Victims of the scam see a fake “blue screen of death” message on their monitors and a “Troubleshooter for Windows” application that tries to sell them what is billed as a Microsoft security product called “Windows Defender Essentials.”
If that name rings a bell, it’s no surprise. The moniker resembles two actual Windows anti-malware applications: Windows Defender and Security Essentials.
Scammers use a cracked software installer to distribute the phony “troubleshooter” app. According to ZDNet:
Rather than troubleshooting, the application displays a lie that, “Windows has encountered an unexpected error” and claims the computer is “missing .dll registry files resulting in computer failure”. It urges victims to “Click Next” to diagnose and troubleshoot the problem.
Once you click “next,” you get a list of alleged problems that cannot be fixed by the troubleshooter program. At that point, you are urged to click another link to “Buy Windows Defender Essentials.”
How to protect yourself from this scam
In the Nov. 20 blog, Microsoft warns that “legitimate technical support websites don’t use scary error messages.” It goes on to say the following:
To help Windows 10 users stay safe from tech support scams, Microsoft Edge blocks tech support scam websites. It uses Windows Defender SmartScreen (also used by Internet Explorer) to block tech support scams and other malicious websites, including phishing sites and sites that host malicious downloads.
In addition, the tech support site BleepingComputer says you can trick the nefarious “troubleshooter” program into shutting down.
Simply hit Ctrl+O once you reach the scammers’ PayPal “purchase” screen, and enter http://hitechnovation.com/thankyou.txt. This little maneuver fools the program into thinking you’ve paid for the software when you really haven’t.
The Malwarebytes website also has instructions for permanently removing the phony “troubleshooter” software.
For more on protecting yourself from all manner of scams, check out:
- “Top 10 Scams and Top 10 Ways to Safeguard Your Money“
- “10 Types of People Who Fall for Scams, Schemes and Cons“
- “9 Scams Every College Student (and Parent) Needs to Watch For“
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