How to spot scams like "Critical Threat Detected: Adware App"

Also Known As: Critical Threat Detected: Adware App technical support scam
Damage level: Medium

What is "Critical Threat Detected: Adware App"?

While examining this scam, our team learned that it is a technical support scam delivered by a deceptive website designed to trick unsuspecting visitors into calling a fake number (contacting scammers). This scam page displays multiple fake messages urging visitors to take immediate action. Typically, users end up on such sites inadvertently.

Critical Threat Detected: Adware App scam

"Critical Threat Detected: Adware App" technical support scam in detail

This deceptive message appears to be a fake "Windows Defender" warning stating that a critical threat has been detected on a computer, specifically an "Adware App." The message implies that access to the computer has been blocked for security reasons and urges users to contact "support" immediately to resolve the issue.

The message provides a phone number (+1-855-339-4500) for "Windows Helpline" and "Windows Support" for users to call. However, this is a scam designed to trick users into contacting a fake support center where they will be asked to pay money for fake services, provide sensitive information, or give access to their computers.

The ultimate goal of technical support scams like this one is to steal personal information (e.g., credit card details, ID card information, or login credentials) or money from victims. A couple examples of scams where scammers aim to trick users into providing remote access to computers are TeamViewer scam and UltraViewer scam.

Threat Summary:
Name Critical Threat Detected: Adware App technical support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Critical threat detected
Disguise Warning from Windows Defender
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-855-339-4500, +1-833-436-3100, +1-833-961-1300, +1(855)-630-3576
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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Similar scams in general

Technical support scams typically use scare tactics to create a sense of urgency. They display fake error messages, pop-ups, or warnings that make it seem like the victim's device is infected or compromised. They often claim to be affiliated with well-known companies, such as Microsoft or Apple, to gain the victim's trust.

The purpose of these scams is to trick the victim into paying for unnecessary services or software, providing sensitive information or remote access to a computer, or downloading malware. Examples of similar scams are "Admittance To This PC Has Been Hindered", "Windows Firewall Protection Alert", and "Your Windows Got Corrupted Due To Virus".

How did I open a scam website

Users may be deceived into visiting fake technical support websites through phishing emails or social media posts that contain deceptive links. Other times, malware may hijack a user's web browsing and redirect them to fake technical support sites or generate pop-up messages that mimic legitimate technical support alerts.

Furthermore, insecure websites can also contain links or pop-ups that direct users to technical support scam sites. Typically, users encounter these scam websites without intending to do so.

How to avoid visiting scam pages?

In order to stay safe while browsing the internet, it is important to be aware that harmful content may appear to be safe and legitimate. Illegal movie streaming sites, torrent pages, and other similar websites should be avoided. It is also advisable not to trust ads on suspicious sites or enable notifications from such websites.

Additionally, it is recommended only to download apps from verified stores and official websites to ensure their safety. If your computer is already infected with unwanted apps, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

The appearance of "Critical Threat Detected: Adware App" pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of Critical Threat Detected: Adware App scam

Text in a deceptive message delivered by this scam:

Windows Defender - System Warning

Critical Threat Detected: Adware App

Access to this computer has been blocked for security reasons.

Important: Please contact support immediately to resolve this issue.

Windows Helpline: +1-855-339-4500 (Toll-Free)

Windows Support


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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?

A pop-up scam is a form of internet deception where fraudulent pop-up windows are displayed on a user's screen during their browsing activity. These pop-ups are crafted to resemble authentic notifications or error messages from the user's device or a reliable website.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Typically, these fraudulent activities are employed with the aim of deceiving users into either dispensing money for needless services, granting unauthorized access to their computers, or providing sensitive information.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Users usually encounter fake pop-ups through various means, such as clicking on dubious advertisements, visiting untrustworthy websites, installing harmful applications, or engaging in similar activities.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner is intended to conduct scans on all websites you access, even those containing harmful content, such as pop-up scam sites. Upon detecting any such site, a prompt warning will be issued, and access to the site will be restricted.

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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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