Google Search Ads have been around for a long while now and up until now have been pretty well regulated by Google. Sure, we’ve all been annoyed by ads promoting stuff that we wouldn’t use and would never buy, but we were pretty certain that the ads weren’t criminal in nature.
But now, a criminal using Google Ads has leveraged YouTube to create his own official- looking “scam funnel” landing page.
Don’t be fooled by its official Microsoft appearance!
Today, Titan Solutions Group technicians noticed that if a person went to Google.ca or Google.com and searched for “youtube” they would likely see this ad:
Our technicians quickly pointed out to our office staff – and now you, our clients – that the URL for this ACTUALLY takes you to a landing page set up to scam the unsuspecting computer user.
Notice that in this image the address of the landing page that the ad REALLY takes you to when you click on it.
It takes you to a landing page that won’t close and claims that your computer is infected. The page instructs you to call the number for support…DON’T DO IT! Someone has actually been able to inject code into a YouTube channel to force you to this webpage, and is paying Google per click to try and drive people to their site.
What happens when you call the number?
Well, we didn’t call to find out, but here is what has happened in earlier versions of this scam.
In previous scams such as this, the call number – sometimes even a number with a local area code – has been routed to a number overseas. The individual who answers the phone, tries to convince you that something has gone wrong, and that you have to give them remote access to your computer so they can fix the problem.
When you do agree to give them remote access, they then take that opportunity to download spyware or ransomware to your systems.
Why do criminals set up scams like this?
To get information that they can sell on the dark web or to lock down your computer and hold it for ransom. Unless you pay, you will not be able to view or use your documents, spreadsheets, pictures, and other important files.
So how do you get away from the “scam funnel” landing page that won’t close?
The easiest way to close this pesky page is CTRL-ALT-DEL. That will take you to the Windows Task Manager. In the Task Manager, choose to “end task” – closing your browser.
If you got sucked in, and you got pushed to this malware “scam funnel” landing page, it’s okay. Just follow the CTRL-ALT-DEL instructions above.
There isn’t any risk to you if your computer has been automatically doing its security updates. As long as you haven’t called the number and given them access to your computer everything is going to be okay.
Malware – What to watch out for…
Malware is dangerous. It can be used by criminals to do great damage to you and your business. But taking a few simple precautions can help you avoid a lot of pain. When it comes to google search results, watch out for the Google Ads. Anything labelled AD could point to something entirely different than what is shown in the ad. Always double-check the URL the link the ad is pointing to (usually at the bottom of the screen) to ensure that you are going to land where you are expecting to land.
Need more information? We can help! Contact our friendly computer support staff at (403) 537-5850 or firstname.lastname@example.org for all of your IT needs.