How to avoid scams like "A Malicious Item Has Been Detected!"

Also Known As: A Malicious Item Has Been Detected! technical support scam
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "A Malicious Item Has Been Detected!"?

After careful examination, we have identified this as a pop-up scam. Such scams typically involve deceptive pop-up messages designed to trick users into taking actions that may compromise their security or lead to financial losses. In order to safeguard online well-being, it is essential to exercise caution and avoid interacting with any prompts associated with this scam.

A Malicious Item Has Been Detected! scam

"A Malicious Item Has Been Detected!" scam in detail

The message displayed by this scam page appears to be a fake antivirus alert from Windows Firewall Security Center. The site claims to have detected a malicious item with the name "Malware@1xtkkvqax9gzy" located in a specific directory. It intentionally provides vague details by stating that more information is unavailable.

The user is then presented with options to either "Clean" or "Ignore". This type of message is characteristic of a scare tactic, where scammers try to create a sense of urgency or panic to trick users into taking actions that may compromise their computer's security. The main goal of this scam is to trick unsuspecting users into calling the provided number (+1-888-390-7276).

Once a victim contacts the fake support number, the scammer may engage in various tactics. They might attempt to gain remote access to the victim's computer under the guise of troubleshooting, potentially installing malware, stealing sensitive information, or demanding payment for unnecessary services.

Examples of scams where remote administration tools are used to gain access to computers are TeamViewer and UltraViewer scams. It is important to mention that the described scam promotes other scams, such as "Windows Defender Security Center" and "Access To This PC Has Been Blocked For Security Reasons".

Threats posed by technical support scams

Engaging with scammers providing fake technical support numbers poses several potential threats. Victims may be at risk of financial loss through deceptive charges for unnecessary services or products.

Also, scammers might install malware (e.g., ransomware or information stealer) on the victim's computer, leading to data theft, unauthorized access, or the compromise of sensitive information. Overall, the primary threats involve financial exploitation and the compromise of computer security and privacy.

Threat Summary:
Name A Malicious Item Has Been Detected! technical support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim A computer is infected with malware
Disguise Warning from Windows Firewall Security Center
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-888-390-7276
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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Similar scams in general

Scams of this type, often categorized as tech support scams, typically involve unsolicited pop-up messages. These scams create a false sense of urgency, asserting that the victim's computer is infected or at risk. The scammers then offer assistance, providing a fake technical support number or prompting the victim to grant remote access to their computer.

The common thread is the exploitation of fear and trust to manipulate individuals into taking actions that benefit the scammers, posing financial and security risks to the victims. Examples of similar scams are "Firewall Update Required", "Threat Service Has Stopped", and "Our Security Scans Have Detected Potential Vulnerabilities".

How did I open a scam website?

Users often land on sites hosting scams by clicking on malicious ads, unknowingly visiting compromised websites, or falling victim to phishing emails that redirect them to fraudulent pages. Some scams leverage techniques like search engine optimization manipulation, redirecting users who are searching for specific keywords to malicious websites.

In other cases, users open scam websites via notifications from other unreliable pages, torrent sites, illegal movie streaming pages, and other websites often employing rogue advertising networks. Adware is also used for the promotion of technical support and other scams.

How to avoid visiting scam pages?

Be cautious with online advertisements and pop-ups, and notifications from suspicious websites. Avoid opening links or files in unexpected or irrelevant emails from unknown addresses. Download applications from official pages and app stores. Employ reputable antivirus and anti-malware software to detect and block potential threats.

Regularly update your operating system, browsers, and security software. 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 "A Malicious Item Has Been Detected!" pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of A Malicious Item Has Been Detected! scam

Text in the fake warning:

Antivirus Alert

A malicious item has been detected!

Name: Malware@ 1xtkkvqax9gzy
Location: /home/johnsmith/Virus samples_...
More information: Unavailable

Clean or Ignore

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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 deceptive tactic wherein fake pop-up messages or alerts appear on a user's screen, often claiming a security threat or offering fake technical support. The goal is to trick users into taking actions that may compromise their computer's security or lead to financial losses.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

The ultimate goal is to manipulate users into taking actions that benefit the scammers, whether through fraudulent charges for unnecessary services, installing malware, or engaging in other forms of cybercrime.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Users can end up on scam sites through malicious ads, compromised websites, or phishing emails. Also, scammers manipulate search engine results and use notifications from unreliable pages and rogue advertising networks. Adware is also employed to promote scams.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner is crafted to scan each website you visit, identifying potential malicious ones. This includes sites engineered for pop-up scams, ensuring instant warnings and restricted access.

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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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