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Watch For Scams Newsletter, Issue #0013 - Scareware
September 29, 2009


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

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There is an increasing incidence of 'scareware' surfacing on the Internet.

You may have been browsing on Internet sites when you received a pop-up window warning that your computer has an infection or a warning flashing that offers a free scan to see if your computer is infected.

You may even receive the equivalent of a 'blue screen of death' which advises your computer has crashed.

These are virus protection scams that may offer to sell you software to remove the infection, or scan your computer and remove it for you. The costs vary but generally fall in the range of $30 -50.

However the scam arises if you purchase the software as it doesn't work. When you download it, you may even receive malicious software as part of the download.

This software may try to steal personal information and passwords, or it may install 'ransomware' that makes some of your data unavailable until you pay a fee to receive the unlock code.

It has been reported that there are over 16,000 varieties of these scareware programs who are trying to extract your money or personal information.

You may receive this scareware in various ways that can include a message offering what appears to be a legitimate update for software on your computer [such as a Flash player], by clicking on fake links in emails, Google ads or hijacked web pages.

The end result is the same however you receive a warning with the option of a download. To complicate the problem, even if you suspect it is a fake message, trying to escape can be difficult. If you close the warning window, you may activate another one, or worse, you may not be able to close the browser window or use your back button!

To prevent finding yourself in this situation:

Ensure you have quality internet security software that is updated regularly

Ensure you schedule regular scans of your computer, and if you think you have been infected, run a full-system scan

Don't click on pop-ups that claim your computer is infected, or accept offers to scan your computer to check it for viruses. Don't click on the 'no' option in the pop-up box use the 'X' in the top right corner, or if it doesn't work, right click on the program icon in the taskbar and choose close. Failing that, simultaneously press Control-Alt-Delete keys that will bring up the Windows Task Manager and then select the browser and choose 'end task'

If you are a victim of an online scheme, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at

Remember - always watch for scams!


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