Tech Support Scam – McAfee Variant

There is a tech support scam that most people are familiar with

You get a call out of the blue, person claims to be from Microsoft and they are calling as you have a problem with your computer. They talk you through running some remote support software where they find a problem of some sort and then ask for payment so they can fix it.

I came across one today that was new on me so thought it was worth sharing.

The person in question had just purchased a new PC and had also purchased a subscription to McAfee anti-virus. Installation instructions were to go to mcafee.com/activate and enter the activation code where they’d then be able to create an account and install the software.

Somewhere along the way they ended up on google search results. Possible they’d made a typo or put a space in the address

This is the URL. I haven’t linked to it but please don’t visit it!
activatemcafee-comactivate.com

This is the page. It looks reasonably legitimate

At that stage they entered their details, clicked the “Start Download” button and ended up here

So they thought there was a problem and duly called the phone number. Then it went through all the usual tech support scam steps. Ran some remote control software, opened the event log to look for an error message, used lots of technical jargon and said the PC had a virus (new PC remember, it had only been on for an hour at this stage) and they’d need to pay to have it fixed. Somewhere in the region of £400.

Thankfully this rang enough alarm bells for them to stop and they called me where I was able to figure out what had happened.

I found lots of other similar pages. Appears to be a pretty widespread scheme!

What’s also complicated with a lot of them is that do link through to genuine McAfee pages.

One of them is very obviously a scammy domain name and even has a WHOIS record that looks awful!

I’m purposely not showing the actual domain name

But when you’re on that page, and click certain links you can actually end up on the proper McAfee activation page. It would be very easy for someone to get caught out

So if you’ve ended up here as you have a McAfee product you need to activate

This is the ONLY url to visit

www.mcafee.com/activate

At the time of writing this will then take you to this page

If you end up on a search result page like this

Don’t click anything. You’ve probably made a typo so close the browser and try again.

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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