Avoid getting scammed by websites displaying "Covid19 Warning Alert"

Also Known As: Covid19 Warning Alert tech support scam
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Medium

"Covid19 Warning Alert" scam removal instructions

What is the "Covid19 Warning Alert"?

"Covid19 Warning Alert" is a scam, promoted on deceptive websites. The scheme claims that users must contact tech support, as their devices have been infected with malware and with COVID-19 (which is not a computer virus but an infectious disease). Users should note that all of the information provided by "Covid19 Warning Alert" is false. Typically, deceptive sites are accessed via redirects caused by intrusive advertisements or by PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications), already infiltrated into the system.

Covid19 Warning Alert scam

When a webpage running "Covid19 Warning Alert" is accessed, visitors are presented with a pop-up window. It warns users not to ignore this "critical alert", since if the page is closed - users' computers and families will be infected/linked with the Coronavirus (though, the pop-up does not elaborate on how this is possible). The device has already been compromised by spyware and other viruses, including COVID-19. The targeted information is listed as: email account and Facebook log-in credentials, credit card details, files stored in the device (e.g. photographs, documents, etc.). To prevent further damage, the computer may be blocked. Users are instructed to call the "free" technical support helpline in order to retain access and to remove the malware. The text presented in the background page is very similar to the fake alert displayed in the pop-up window. It is stated that if users ignore the warnings, they themselves will be infected with the Coronavirus. Allegedly, this alert has been verified by both the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and the WHO (World Health Organization). Afterwards, the message closely mimics the pop-up. However, the background page claims that if the pop-up is closed - other users will be somehow infected. Similarly, this fraudulent warning keeps urging users' to call the provided phone number. Despite the fake helplines being presented as "free" in such scams - that is rarely the case. Scammers use this type of schemes to trick users into revealing personal/sensitive information, paying bogus "fees" and/or allowing access to their computers. The latter can be achieved through remote access software, however what is done from then on - can vary drastically. The initial access may be used to infect the device with malicious software, like RATs (Remote Access Trojans) - in order to ensure indefinite access and control, ransomware, cryptominers, and other malware. Either from successfully compromised systems or from the users themselves, scammers can extract private data (e.g. names, addresses, emails, banking account and/or credit card details, etc.). The "services" of scammers are not free and users are usually required to pay for them. Furthermore, victims can be continually targeted, especially if trust and/or rapport has been successfully established by the scammers. To summarize, trusting the "Covid19 Warning Alert" can result in system infections, significant financial losses, severe privacy issues and even identity theft. In some cases, scam websites may prevent users from closing them. To close such a page - the browser's process must be ended via Windows Task Manager. Additionally, the next time the browser is opened - it is important to remember not to restore the previous browsing session, as that will reopen the deceptive website.

As mentioned in the introduction, PUAs can force-open various harmful sites. However, these applications can have other/additional abilities. Adware-types can deliver intrusive advertisements (e.g. pop-ups, banners, coupons, etc.). Another type called browser hijackers - can modify browser settings to promote fake search engines. What is more, most PUAs (regardless of type) can track data. They monitor browsing activity (URLs visited, pages viewed, search queries typed, etc.) and collect personal information inferred from it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). The gathered data is shared with and/or sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). To ensure device integrity and user privacy, all suspicious apps and browser extensions/plug-ins must be eliminated without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Covid19 Warning Alert tech support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam claims users' devices are infected with viruses and may be blocked.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-888-651-2369
Related Domains covid-alert.epizy[.]com
Detection Names (covid-alert.epizy[.]com) Sophos AV (Suspicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address 185.27.134.225
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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"Windows Alert & Warning", "System Activation KEY Has Expired" and "Killer's IP Address" are a few examples of similar tech support scams. The Web is full of deceptive websites that make varied claims, ranging from warnings of infected devices to offering unbelievable prizes. Despite how alarming or good these scams may sound - the have but one goal, which is to generate revenue at user expense. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Some PUAs have "official" download pages, which are often promoted by scam websites. However, these applications are more commonly downloaded/installed together with other products. This deceptive marketing technique of packing regular programs with unwanted or malicious additions - is called "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. ignored terms, used presets, etc.) - increase the risk of unintentionally allowing dubious and/or bundled software into systems. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. Upon being clicked, the ads can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is highly recommended to research products before download/installation. Only official and verified download channels must be used. Untrustworthy sources, like: unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.) and other third party downloaders - can offer bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is advised to read terms, explore all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from supplementary apps, tools, features, and so on. Intrusive adverts appear ordinary and harmless, however they redirect to questionable webpages (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.). In case of encounters with advertisements and/or redirects of this kind, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins - immediately removed from it. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Screenshot of the displayed pop-up window:

Covid19 Warning Alert pop-up scam

Text presented in "Covid19 Warning Alert" scam:

Pop-up:

 

Important Warning:

 

** Covid18 Warning Alert **

 

ERROR # 0x03JWO2FCORONAVIRUS34

 

Please call us immediately at:
+1-888-651-2369 (Windows and nCov-19 Toll Free)
Do not ignore this critical alert or risk be infected.
if you close this page, your computer access will be  with coronavirus, linke your family. And disabled to prevent further damage to our network. Your computer has alerted us that it has been infected with a Pornographic Spyware and virus and covid19. The following information is being stolen and hacked:

 

1.Facebook Logins
2.Credit Card Details
3.Email Account Logins
4.Photos and documents stored on this computer
5.Your Familiy's serials

 

Please call us within the next 5 minutes to prevent your computer from being disabled from any information loss.

 

Windows Toll Free: +1-888-651-2369

 

-------------------

 

Background:

 

Error Logged at: Wed Aug 5 2020 20:06pmSun Mar 1 2020 11:59am
Windows Diagnostics IP Address: 129.0.0.1
Call Support +1-888-651-2369

 

ERROR # 0x03JWO2FCORONAVIRUS34

 

Please call us immediately at:
+1-888-651-2369 (Toll Free)+1-888-651-2369
(Toll Free)
Do not ignore this critical alert or you will be infected with
coronavirus. This is proofed by FBI and WHO
If you close this page, your computer access will be disabled to
prevent further damage to our network.
Your computer has alerted us that it has been infected with
Pornographic Spyware and coronavirus and. The following
information is being stolen:

 

1.Facebook logins
2.Credit Card details
3.Email Account Logins
4.Photos and documents stored on this computer

 

Please don't close this popup, if you don't wanna infecting users.
 process over the phone to protect your identity. Please call us
 within the next 5 minutes to prevent your computer from being
 disabled or from any information loss.
 
 Call Windows Support
 +1-888-651-2369 (Toll FREE)
 
 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
 2019-NCOV

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted applications:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.

Windows XP users:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.

Mac OSX users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

PUAs uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for any suspicious/recently-installed applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove rogue extensions from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 1

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently-installed suspicious browser extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the covid19 warning alert tech support scam, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.

Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and remove them.

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the covid19 warning alert tech support scam, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plugins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions", in the opened window remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with covid19 warning alert tech support scam removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

removing adware from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....

removing adware from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the covid19 warning alert tech support scam, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of adware while downloading free software sampleCommonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove covid19 warning alert tech support scam from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
If you have additional information on covid19 warning alert tech support scam or it's removal please share your knowledge in the comments section below.

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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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Covid19 Warning Alert tech support scam QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of Covid19 Warning Alert tech support scam on your mobile device.
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