How to spot scams like Microsoft Support.exe scam page

Also Known As: Microsoft Support.exe pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What is Microsoft Support.exe?

There are many tech supports scams on the internet that display errors and virus notifications. Typically, the scammers behind them attempt to deceive unsuspecting visitors into paying for software and/or remote technical services, which will supposedly help them to fix the errors and remove viruses, etc.

In this particular case, scammers attempt to trick people into providing remote access to their computers via legitimate software called Remote Utilities

In fact, they have configured the appearance of these programs to appear as if they are designed by Microsoft. Do not to trust this scam web page, download software through it, or contact the scammers via the number provided.

Microsoft Support.exe scam

More about the Microsoft Support.exe scam

This scam displays notifications stating that the web page has detected malicious software and the "0x80092ee9" error on the visitor's computer. To fix the error and remove malware, visitors must supposedly call the "+1-833-516-0456" number and follow the instructions.

Research shows that scammers behind this scam seek to trick unsuspecting visitors into installing a modified Remote Utilities remote administration tool (RAT), which is disguised as software designed by Microsoft to connect to Microsoft Support.

This tool is supposedly downloaded from windowshelp[.]online, a website which is disguised as a web page relating to the Windows Operating System. Remote Utilities's developers and Microsoft have nothing to do with this scam. As mentioned, scammers seek to gain access to visitors' computers through the aforementioned RAT.

With remote access to the computer, scammers can perform various tasks. For example, they can download and install malicious software such as ransomware, Trojans, or other high-risk malware. They might also be able to steal various personal information (passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive details).

In any case, providing scammers/cyber criminals with remote access to your computer can lead to serious problems. For example, data and monetary loss, identity theft, problems relating to privacy, browsing safety, and so on. Therefore, ignore these scam pages.

Note that people usually do not visit these pages intentionally - they are opened by installed unwanted applications.

Apps of this kind usually collect browsing-related information and display ads. Typically, they collect details such as entered search queries, addresses of visited web pages, geolocations, IP addresses, and so on, however, some rogue apps can record personal, sensitive information as well.

Developers generate revenue by selling the data to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) who misuse it in other ways. This can lead to problems relating to privacy, browsing safety, etc. Some people might even become victims of identity theft. Rogue apps often feed users with intrusive ads (coupons, banners, surveys, pop-ups).

If clicked, these open dubious pages or execute scripts that cause download/installation of unwanted apps.

Threat Summary:
Name Microsoft Support.exe pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Detection of an error and malware on the visitor's computer.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-833-516-0456
Detection Names (Microsoft Support.exe) DrWeb (BackDoor.RMS.161), eGambit (Unsafe.AI_Score_83%), Jiangmin (RemoteAdmin.RMS.ru), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Examples of similar scams

Examples of other similar scams are "TeamViewer Scam", "ERROR # MS-0x8024402C" and "Windows Defender Browser Protection".

In most cases, scammers try to trick visitors into paying for software, remote services or installing a remote access tool. Never trust these web pages. They are disguised as official Microsoft pages, however, Microsoft has nothing do to with any of these scams. If your browser opens these web pages automatically, it is very likely that it is forced to do so by an installed shady app.

How did unwanted applications install on my computer?

Most people do not download or install rogue apps intentionally - this usually happens when they click deceptive ads that execute certain scripts or when the apps are distributed by including them into software download/installation set-ups. This distribution method is known as "bundling" and is used to trick people into downloading and installing unwanted apps with regular software.

Information about the additionally-included apps can be found in settings of such as "Advanced", "Custom", and so on, however, people often leave these unchecked and unchanged, thereby inadvertently allowing shady apps to be downloaded and installed.

How to avoid installation of unwanted applications?

We recommend that you download software only from trustworthy, official websites and through direct links. It is not safe to use third party downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), unofficial pages, or other channels to download or install software (they are usually monetized to promote unwanted apps).

Check all settings such as "Custom" and "Advanced" - dismiss offers to download or install additional, unwanted apps. Do not click intrusive ads that are displayed on dubious web pages, since they can open various untrusted websites or download and install unwanted software.

Remove all unwanted, unknown apps (extensions, add-ons, plug-ins) installed on the browser. The same should be applied to software of this kind that is installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with rogue apps, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

The appearance of Microsoft Support.exe scam page (GIF):

Microsoft Support.exe scam gif

Screenshot of Microsoft Support.exe scam page:

Microsoft Support.exe scam website

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Quick menu:

How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a pop-up scam?

In most cases, it is a fake virus, error, or other alert/warning (displayed by a deceptive page) claiming that a computer is infected or damaged and urging visitors to fix the problem as soon as possible.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Scammers use pop-up scams to extract money and (or) sensitive information, distribute malware, or to trick visitors into paying for fake technical support (or other) services or unnecessary (or fake) software.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Fake pop-ups are displayed by pages that users open via shady advertisements, notifications from untrustworthy pages, or pages that use rogue advertising networks (e.g., illegal movie streaming pages, torrent sites, etc.).

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner detects shady websites, including pages running pop-up scams. It warns users about pages of this kind and restricts access to them.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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