Do not trust sites stating "Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated"
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What kind of scam is "Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated"?
Our research team discovered the "Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated" technical support scam while investigating rogue sites. The scheme makes false claims regarding an illegal Windows version and system infections. This tech support scam aims to trick users into calling the provided helpline and entangling them in an elaborate money-seeking scheme.
"Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated" scam overview
This scam is disguised as a warning from the Microsoft Defender Antivirus. It comprises multiple pop-up windows presented as security software interface/ system scan and threat alerts.
The topmost pop-up states that the user's Windows key (license) is invalid and appears to be pirated. It also claims to have detected a banking trojan on the system – hence, all files and accounts could get permanently banned. Throughout the scheme, the user is urged to call the provided "Microsoft Support" telephone number.
It must be emphasized that all these claims are false, and they are in no way associated with the actual Microsoft Corporation.
The technical support scam is initiated after the victim calls the fake helpline. Typically, the user is requested to allow the scammer (who claims to be "Microsoft Support", "expert technician", etc.) to access their computer remotely. In most cases, the connection is established using legitimate remote access software (e.g., TeamViewer, UltraViewer, AnyDesk, etc.).
How the scam operates from that point on can vary. While connected, the cyber criminal continues with the charade of providing technical support, such as removing threats, installing security programs, offering protection services, etc.
However, the fake "technician" can cause a wide variety of damage while connected, e.g., disable/remove genuine security tools, install fake anti-viruses, steal data, infect the system with real malware (trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.), and so on.
Scammers can obtain information by deceiving victims into disclosing or typing it where it supposedly cannot be seen. Alternatively, phishing websites/files or data-stealing malware can be used for this purpose.
Data of interest may include personally identifiable details (e.g., names, occupations, addresses, etc.), usernames/passwords (e.g., emails, social networking/media, online banking, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.), and finance-related information (e.g., banking account details, credit card numbers, etc.).
Furthermore, the "services" of scammers tend to be exorbitantly priced. Cyber criminals prefer difficult-to-trace methods of payment like cryptocurrencies, gift cards, pre-paid vouchers, or cash hidden in innocent-looking packages and shipped. By using such techniques, scammers can decrease the probability of persecution and prevent victims from retrieving their funds. It is pertinent to mention that successfully scammed victims are often targeted repeatedly.
In summary, by trusting a scam like "Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated" – users can experience system infections, serious privacy issues, significant financial losses, and even identity theft.
Should it be impossible to close a scam page, end the browser's process using the Windows Task Manager. However, do not restore the previous browsing session when reaccessing the browser – as that would reopen the deceptive site.
If you have allowed cyber criminals to remotely access your device – immediately disconnect it from the Internet. Afterwards, remove the remote access program that the scammers used, as they may not need your consent to reconnect. Lastly, perform a complete system scan with an anti-virus and eliminate all detected threats.
If you believe that your accounts are at risk – change the passwords of all potentially exposed content and inform official support without delay. And if your other private data is in danger (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit card numbers, etc.) – immediately contact the appropriate authorities.
|Name||"Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated" tech support scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Windows may be pirated and the system is infected.|
|Tech Support Scammer Phone Number||(833)622 2535|
|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.
Tech support scam examples
"Critical Threat Detected: Adware App", "Admittance To This PC Has Been Hindered", and "Windows Firewall Protection Alert" are just a few examples of technical support scams that we have investigated recently.
The Internet is rife with deceptive and malicious content. Various scam models are used to gain and subsequently abuse victims' trust, e.g., fake: errors, system infections, software updates, surveys, lotteries, giveaways, product promotions, etc.
Due to how widespread online scams are and how convincing they can be – we strongly recommend exercising caution while browsing.
How did I open a scam website?
Scam sites are often accessed via webpages that use rogue advertising networks. The former can be force-opened immediately upon entry or when hosted content is interacted with (e.g., clicking buttons, text input fields, links, ads, etc.). Additionally, misspelling a website's URL can result in a redirect (or a redirection chain leading) to a deceptive page.
Spam browser notifications and intrusive advertisements promote online scams as well. Spam emails/messages are also used to endorse this content. Adware installed on the system can display scheme-promoting adverts or force-open webpages that host scams.
How to avoid visiting scam websites?
We highly recommend being vigilant while browsing since fake and malicious online content usually appears legitimate and harmless. For example, intrusive adverts can look innocuous yet redirect to unreliable/questionable webpages (e.g., scam-promoting, gambling, pornography, adult dating, etc.).
We advise against using sites that offer pirated software/media or other suspect services (e.g., Torrenting, illegal streaming/downloading, etc.) – since they are typically monetized via rogue advertising networks. Another recommendation is to always pay attention to URLs and enter them with care.
To avoid receiving unwanted browser notifications – do not enable dubious websites to deliver them (i.e., do not click "Allow", "Allow Notifications", etc.). Instead, ignore or deny notification requests from such pages (i.e., select "Block", "Block Notifications", etc.).
We also advise downloading only from official/verified sources and treating installation processes with caution (e.g., reading terms, using "Custom/Advanced" settings, opting out of supplementary apps, extensions, etc.) – to prevent bundled/harmful content from infiltrating the system.
We must stress that having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept updated is essential to device and user safety. Security programs must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats and issues. If your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate all threats.
Text presented in "Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated" pop-up:
Windows Defender - System Warning
Windows key code is not valid and seems pirated.
Threat-Detected : Banking Trojan
All Files and Online Accounts may be banned permanently.
Microsoft Support: (833)622 2535 (Toll-Free)
Error Code : 0x80070426
[GET HELP] [DISMISS]
The appearance of "Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated" pop-up scam (GIF):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is "Windows Key Code Is Not Valid And Seems Pirated" tech support scam?
- How to identify a pop-up scam?
- How do pop-up scams work?
- How to remove fake pop-ups?
- How to prevent fake pop-ups?
- What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
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:
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?
Pop-up scams are deceptive messages intended to trick users into performing certain actions, e.g., calling fake support lines, allowing scammers to remotely access devices, making monetary transactions, disclosing private information, downloading/installing software, purchasing products, subscribing to services, etc.
What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?
Pop-up scams are designed to generate revenue. Cyber criminals mainly profit by obtaining funds through deception, selling or abusing sensitive data, promoting content (e.g., websites, software, products, services, etc.), and proliferating malware.
Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?
Pop-up scams are promoted on deceptive webpages that are seldom accessed intentionally. Most users enter them via redirects caused by sites using rogue advertising networks, mistyped URLs, spam browser notifications, intrusive ads, or installed adware.
I cannot exit a scam page, how do I close it?
If you cannot close a scam webpage, end the browser's process using the Windows Task Manager. However, keep in mind that the page will be reopened if the previous browsing session is restored. Therefore, when accessing the browser again – do not restore the session.
I have allowed cyber criminals to remotely access my computer, what should I do?
If you have permitted cyber criminals to remotely access your device, immediately disconnect it from the Internet. Secondly, uninstall the remote access software that the scammers used (e.g., UltraViewer, TeamViewer, AnyDesk, etc.). And then, perform a full system scan with an anti-virus; remove all detected threats.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by a pop-up scam, what should I do?
If you have provided your account credentials – change the password of all possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay. If the disclosed information was of a different personal nature (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit card numbers, etc.) – immediately contact relevant authorities.
Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams and the malware they proliferate?
Combo Cleaner is designed to detect and eliminate threats. It can scan visited websites for deceptive/malicious content. Additionally, it can restrict all further access to such websites. Combo Cleaner can also scan systems and remove practically all known malware infections. Note that performing a complete system scan is essential – since sophisticated malicious software typically hides deep within systems.
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