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How to recognize tech support scams like Pornographic Spyware Alert?

Also Known As: Pornographic Spyware Alert technical support scam
Damage level: Medium

What is kind of scam is Pornographic Spyware Alert?

It is a technical support scam using scare tactics to trick unsuspecting visitors into calling the provided number. Usually, scammers behind pages of this type ask to install remote administration software, pay for unnecessary services or programs, and (or) provide sensitive information.

Pornographic Spyware Alert scam

Pornographic Spyware Alert pop-up scam in detail

This scam page runs a fake system scan and displays a fake Windows Firewall protection alert claiming that a computer is infected with spyware and access to it is blocked. It encourages users to call the 1800 849 097 number for technical support.

Usually, scammers seek to trick users into providing banking information, login credentials, or other information. In other cases, they ask for permission to remotely access a computer or pay money for fake services. Either way, these scams must be ignored.

Threat Summary:
Name Pornographic Spyware Alert technical support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Computer is infected with spyware
Disguise Virus alert from Windows Firewall
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number 1800 849 097 
Related Domains urgentsupport[.]one
Detection Names (urgentsupport[.]one) BitDefender (Malware), Fortinet (Phishing), Kaspersky (Malware), Netcraft (Malicious), 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)

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Technical support scams in general

Falling for such scams can result in monetary loss, computer infections, identity theft, and (or) other problems. Most technical support scam pages are disguised as legitimate Microsoft or other company/product pages.

Examples of similar scams are "Pornographics Security Warning", "Microsoft Windows Virus Alert", "Windows_Firewall_Protection_Alert". These pop-up scams are delivered by pages that are promoted through shady ads or websites or potentially unwanted applications (PUAs). Users do not open these pages on purpose.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs often are bundled with other programs. They can be found in downloaders and installers for other programs as optional offers. PUAs get permission to be downloaded or installed when "Custom", "Advanced", "Manual", or similar settings available in downloaders and installers are left unchanged.

In other cases, PUAs are distributed through advertisements designed to run certain scripts or fake installers. Either way, most users download and (or) install them without knowing about it.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Download programs and files only from legitimate (official) websites and use direct download links. Always check downloaders and installers for "Custom", "Advanced", and other settings to see if any unwanted apps can be deselected before downloading and installing programs. Do not click on advertisements appearing on unreliable pages.

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

The appearance of Pornographic Spyware Alert pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of Pornographic Spyware Alert scam

Text in this pop-up scam:

Windows_Firewall_Protextion_Alert !

Pornographic_Spyware Alert - Error Code: #0x268d3(00x7)
Access to this PC has been blocked for security reasons.
Contact Microsoft Suport: 1800 849 097
Threat_Detected - Pornographic_Spyware
App: Ads.financetrack(1).exe
[Quick Support] [Go Back Safety]

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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?

It is a scam claiming that a computer is infected, compromised, or another problem has to be solved as soon as possible. Pretty often, these scams display a number that visitors are supposed to call for technical support.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

In most cases, these scams are used to distribute malicious or other unwanted software, extract personal information or money.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Most pop-up scams are delivered by websites that users open unintentionally. These pages get opened through shady advertisements, other dubious pages, or installed potentially unwanted applications.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

This app will scan websites and detect malicious ones (including pages designed to deliver pop-up scams). It will also restrict 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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