Back to Back Issues Page
Watch For Scams Newsletter. Tech Support Scams
May 20, 2024

Tech Support Scams in Sponsored Search Results

Watch For Scams is dedicated to helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

If you like this ezine, do a friend a big favor and forward this to them. If a friend forwarded this to you, and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting the link below:

Subscribe Here

Tech Support Scams in Sponsored Search Results

Watch out for tech support scams lurking in sponsored search results.

A campaign using sponsored search results is targeting home users and taking them to tech support scams.

Sponsored search results are the ones that are listed at the top of search results and are labelled “Sponsored”. They’re often ads that are taken out by brands who want to get people to click through to their website. In the case of malicious sponsored ads, scammers tend to outbid the brands in order to be listed as the first search result.

The criminals that buy the ads will go as far as displaying the official brand’s website within the ad snippet, making it hard for an unsuspecting visitor to notice a difference. Examples can include ads that look like they are from CNN or Amazon.

The systems of the people that click one of these links are likely to be assessed on what the most profitable follow-up is (using a method called fingerprinting). For systems running Windows, visitors are usually redirected to tech support scam websites.

You undoubtedly know the type. Endless pop-ups, soundbites, and prompts telling the visitor that they should urgently call the displayed number to free their system of alleged malware.

These tech support scammers will impersonate legitimate software companies (i.e. Microsoft) and charge their victims hundreds or even thousands of dollars for completely bogus malware removal.

Getting Help if You Have Been Scammed

Getting scammed is one of the worst feelings to experience. In many ways, you may feel like you have been violated and angry to have let your guard down. Perhaps you are even shocked and scared, and don’t really know what to do now. The following tips will hopefully provide you with some guidance.

If you’ve already let the scammers in.

1. Revoke any remote access the scammer has (if you are unsure, restart your computer). That should cut the remote session and kick them out of your computer

2. Scan your computer for malware. The scammers may have installed password stealers or other Trojans to capture your keystrokes.

3. Change all your passwords. (Windows password, email, banking, etc.)

If you’ve already paid

1. Contact your financial institution/credit card company to reverse the charges and keep an eye out for future unwanted charges

2. If you gave them personal information such as date of birth, Social Security Number, full address, name, and maiden name, you may want to look at some form of identity theft protection.

Reporting the Scam

File a report

In the US: File a complaint (FTC)

In Canada: Contact law enforcement

In the UK: Report fraud | Report a cold call

In Australia: Report a scam

Shut down their remote software account

Write down the TeamViewer ID (9-digit code) and send it to TeamViewer’s support

[]. They can later use the information you provide to block people/companies.

LogMeIn: Report abuse

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


Back to Back Issues Page