How to identify fake warnings like "McAfee Safety Warning"

Also Known As: Fake McAfee security warning
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "McAfee Safety Warning"?

During our examination of the website, we discovered a scam operation hosted on it. This scam is crafted to deceive visitors by presenting them with what appears to be a safety warning from a reputable security company. Such warnings are designed to instill a sense of urgency and fear, coercing visitors into taking immediate action.

McAfee Safety Warning scam

"McAfee Safety Warning" scam in detail

The text on the scam page presents itself as a safety warning purportedly from McAfee, targeting users who may be using the Windows operating system with Chrome browser. It falsely claims that an attempt to hack the user's device while visiting a prohibited site has been prevented and that the user's data has been added to the CISA blacklist due to potential infection and access by attackers.

The warning instills fear by suggesting that the device is under a virus threat and personal and banking information are at risk of being accessed by hackers. It further threatens that ignoring the message could result in the sale of banking details to third parties.

The page urges users to start McAfee Total Protection immediately to eliminate these supposed threats, citing recent browsing activity to illegal streaming or adult content websites as evidence of potential infection.

When users click the provided link ("Start McAfee Total Protection"), they are directed to a legitimate McAfee website. However, it is crucial to note that the URL of this website includes an affiliate's ID. This suggests that the website hosting the scam is operated by affiliates who seek to earn commissions.

In other words, the affiliates are incentivized to drive traffic to the McAfee website through their referral links, potentially profiting from any purchases made by users who follow the link on the scam page. It is important to mention that McAfee is a legitimate company that does not use fraudulent methods to promote its software products.

Threat Summary:
Name Fake McAfee security warning
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim An attempt to hack the visitor's device has been prevented
Disguise Warning from McAfee
Related Domain mcafeesupport[.]top
Detection Names alphaMountain.ai (Phishing), Bfore.Ai PreCrime (Malicious), Combo Cleaner (Phishing), CyRadar (Malicious), G-Data (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, unwanted applications, phishing emails, notifications from shady sites.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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In conclusion, the scam identified on the website masquerading as a safety warning from McAfee serves as a reminder of the sophisticated tactics employed by cybercriminals to deceive unsuspecting users. It underscores the importance of vigilance and skepticism when encountering suspicious warnings or messages online.

Users must remain cautious, verify the legitimacy of such communications, and refrain from engaging with them to protect themselves from falling victim to scams. Examples of similar scams are "AVG - Your PC Is Infected With 18 Viruses", "Your TotalAV Subscription Has Expired", and "McAfee - Your Computer Is Infected With Viruses".

How did I open a scam website?

Users often open scam sites through phishing emails or messages containing links to fraudulent websites, deceptive online advertisements, or pop-ups (including notifications from unreliable web pages). Adware installed on computers can also contribute to the promotion of pages that host scams.

Additionally, users tend to encounter scams while visiting pages associated with rogue advertising networks. Typically, these networks are utilized by torrent sites, illegal movie streaming pages, and similar websites. Sometimes, scammers create websites with domains resembling official sites to lure users into visiting scam websites.

How to avoid visiting scam pages?

Do not trust irrelevant emails from unknown addresses, especially when they include links (or attachments). Download apps from official pages and app stores, and do not interact with ads, pop-ups, and links on shady pages. Avoid agreeing to receive notifications from suspicious sites.

Before downloading anything or providing information, check the URLs of websites to ensure they match the official ones. Also, regularly check your computer and browsers for questionable apps and remove them. 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 "McAfee Safety Warning" pop-up scam (GIF):

McAfee Safety Warning pop-up scam apperance

Text on this scam website:

Safety warning!
Operating system: Windows 10.0, Chrome
Address: North Carolina,
Ip address:

An attempt to hack your device when trying to visit a prohibited site has been prevented. Your data has been added to the CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) blacklist, because your device could be infected and attackers could have access to it.

Therefore, your device might currently be under virus threat !

Your personal data, banking information and other sensitive information are at risk of being accessed by hackers !

If you ignore this message, access to your banking details might be at risk of being sold to 3rd parties. Please start your McAfee Total Protection to eliminate all threats !

Your device recently browsed to compromised websites with illegal streaming
and/or adult content. This might lead to getting your device infected by viruses.
To remove all potential threats, we strongly recommend you run an antivirus
scan immediately.

Start McAfee Total Protection

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a pop-up scam?

A pop-up scam is a type of online scam where deceptive pop-up windows appear on a user's screen while browsing the internet. These pop-ups typically display false or misleading information designed to trick users into taking action.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

The purpose of a pop-up scam is to deceive users into providing personal information, downloading malware, or making unauthorized purchases by displaying false or misleading pop-up windows while browsing the internet.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

These scams can appear when visiting compromised, unreliable, or malicious websites, clicking on deceptive ads or links, or even as a result of malware infections on their devices.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner is engineered to scan each website you visit comprehensively, with the ability to identify malicious ones. This includes websites engineered to deploy pop-up scams. As a result, if you encounter such sites, you will promptly receive a warning, and access will be restricted accordingly.

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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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