How to remove applications used to promote the McAfee Tollfree scam

Also Known As: McAfee Tollfree technical support scam
Damage level: Medium

What is McAfee Tollfree scam?

In most cases, technical support scams display fake pop-up messages/notifications claiming that the computer is infected with viruses and encouraging users to call the provided number to get help with removing them.

Usually, scammers behind tech-support scams attempt to trick users into purchasing unnecessary or even fake software, paying for remote technical "support", or installing remote administration tools, which allow them to access and control computers.

Ignore these scams - the virus alerts and other notifications issued by them are fake.

People do not often visit technical support scam websites intentionally - they are forcibly redirected to these pages after clicking deceptive ads, visiting bogus websites, or when potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are installed on browsers/operating systems.

McAfee Tollfree technical support scam

This technical support scam website runs a fake McAfee virus scan that shows a fake detections list with a number of 'detected' security risks.

At the time of research, this fake scanner detected five threats: "Win32/Hoax.Renox.HX", "Trojan IRC/Backor.Sd.FRV", "Adware.Win32.Look2me.ab", "Trojan.Qoologic - Key Logger", and "Trojan.Fakealert.356".

The main purpose of this scam is to trick unsuspecting visitors into believing that their computers are infected with various malicious programs and into calling the +1-888-599-0338 number to get help with their removal.

As mentioned, scammers behind tech-support scam websites monetize them by selling unnecessary software or services, or they use these pages to trick people into installing remote access/administration tools (RATs), which allow them to gain access and control of computers remotely.

In such cases, they use installed RATs to infect computers with malicious, unwanted software (e.g., ransomware, Trojan, cryptocurrency miner) or steal personal information (e.g., credit card details, login credentials, bank account numbers, and so on).

Tech-support scams can never be trusted, and the numbers on them should never be called. Note that legitimate antivirus suites (in this case, McAfee Antivirus) are not related to these scams in any way.

These technical support scams and other untrusted websites are promoted through potentially unwanted applications, which many users download and install onto browsers and computers inadvertently.

Commonly, PUAs gather various data and generate advertisements. Some examples of details that PUAs collect are IP addresses, websites of visited pages, entered search queries, geolocations.

In some cases, PUAs gather sensitive, confidential information (e.g., financial details, information relating to login credentials). PUAs can display coupons, banners, surveys, and pop-up advertisements, which are used to promote dubious websites and distribute other PUAs (they cause unwanted downloads/installations by executing certain scripts).

Threat Summary:
Name McAfee Tollfree technical support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Computer is infected with malware
Disguise Virus alert from McAfee
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-888-599-0338
Related Domain hybrid222[.]ml
Serving IP Address
Detection Names BitDefender (Malware), ESET (Phishing), Kaspersky (Malware), SCUMWARE.org (Malware), Sophos (Phishing), 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, 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 Combo Cleaner.
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There are many examples of tech-support scams including "Code #007d3Cx0d", "Your System Detected Some Unusual Activity", and "Microsoft Security Essentials Alert". In most cases, scammers disguise the fake notifications as legitimate notifications from Microsoft or other software developers such as McAfee.

None of the legitimate companies or their websites have anything to do with these scams. Browsers that open untrusted pages (including tech-support scam pages) often have potentially unwanted applications installed on them.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

People often download and install unwanted apps inadvertently via deceptive advertisements - they click ads that cause unwanted downloads/installations by executing certain scripts.

Unwanted downloads and installations also occur during download/installation of other programs. I.e., when PUAs are included into the set-ups as 'extra offers'. This PUA distribution method of PUAs is called "bundling".

Typically, offers to download and install these additional apps can be declined via "Custom", "Advanced" or other settings, or by unticking certain checkboxes within the set-ups. When users download and install programs without making these checks and changes, they often allow PUAs to infiltrate.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

You are advised to download files and programs from official websites and via direct download links. Other tools and sources such as third party downloaders and installers, unofficial pages, and Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., eMule, torrent clients) should not be used to download or install software.

Check all "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings (or available checkboxes) for offers to download and/or install unwanted apps. Do not click ads on dubious websites, since they can be designed to open bogus web pages or cause unwanted downloads and installations.

Remove any unwanted, suspicious extensions, plug-ins and add-ons installed on the browser, and software of this kind from the operating system.

If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Appearance of the McAfee Tollfree scam (GIF):

mcafee tollfree pop-up scam appearance

Text presented in the main pop-up:

Mcafee Tollfree : + 1-888-599-0338

Your Computer on Risk Call: +1-888-599-0338

Results Summary
[+] Total items scanned: 2038
[+] Total security risks detected: 5
[+] Total security risks resolved: 0
Total security risks requiring attention: 5
[Pause] [Stop]

Text in the second (background) pop-up:

Mcafee AntiVirus

Your Are Protected
Protection Updates: Current
Last Scan: Not available | Quick Scan
Licenses Used: 1 of 5 | Install on Another Device

Security Identity Performance More McAfee

Protected Protected Protected Protected


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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.

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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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