Scammers Took Over My Laptop but I Shut Them Down!

Last Update: March 12, 2018

Luckily I heard a good piece of advice on the radio last week. If you get a ransomware type attack on your laptop, take out the battery! I got hit with screen locking tech support scam on Sunday as I was getting ready to do my taxes! It takes over your computer so you can't do anything. Your screen is locked on their warning message and the audio warning blares from your speakers. It tells you your computer is infected with a virus and you need to contact "Microsoft". Of course the number they tell you to call is not going to actually be for Microsoft. It is a tech support scam to get your information. I guess this is not technically "ransomware" since they aren't telling you upfront to pay to get your data back. I don't know what they do when you call the number though since I didn't call it!


I took out the battery and that seemed to solve the problem. I don't know if that was actually the right course of action but it seemed like a start. Now I see I shoudl have taken a picture of the message on the screen first. It looks like I may have been able to shut my computer down with the power button rather than taking the battery out but in any case it worked!

If you get any sort of scam warning on your computer, DON'T DO WHATEVER THEY TELL YOU TO DO! If they ask for information, don't give it. If they tell you to call their number, don't call it! Look up the correct number yourself (for Microsoft etc). These are all scams to get your infomation and or money.

Good luck,

Jessica


Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
HoneyMacLips Premium
Oh wow this happened to me the other day. I took a picture with my phone. Like you I could not do anything on my screen and the notification took over my speakers. I Ctrl/Alt Delete shut down my computer and ran my antivirus software.

Thanks for your post
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Thanks, it is so annoying when it comes on your speakers at full volume! I am glad you could shut it down!
Reply
HoneyMacLips Premium
It was super irritating you right. Thanks I am as well. I'm glad you let others know about this.
Reply
Swangirl Premium
No problem!
Reply
RGHFlash Premium
Thanks Jessica, for reporting this to the group. One thing that has worked for me is to bring Task Manager, then highlight the app that pop-up is on (i.e. Google Chrome) and then click on End task in bottom right of screen. It's too bad they don't use their skills in honorable pursuits as they would probably be quite successful helping others instead of scamming others.
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Yes, thanks! I guess there will always be people like that in the world.
Reply
ArieOrtiz903 Premium
Yo! I literally had the exact same thing happen to me a few months back!

I remember coming home from work one day and the first thing I did was go to my laptop with the intention of writing my next blog post.

However, I got that message with the audio playing and what I did was reset the PC. Luckily after that, it was gone. I have also looked on Microsofts site and they even acknowledged there that those popups are frauds.
Reply
Swangirl Premium
It seems to be really common lately. Many people here have commented they had the same thing happen or know someone who did!

Thanks
Reply
IvyT Premium
Hiya!

These pop ups are annoying; my girls have seen them while surfing too. But the good news is: unless you act on the demands made by that very melodramatic pop up (call me! Give me control!) ...you have not actually been infected.

The page you visited generated a giant JavaScript popup that obscured your browser window. You can avoid it by visiting that same site with Java switched off in your browser. Or if it’s already open and screaming obscenities at you, just shut the whole browser down from your task manager.

Sometimes site owners write these. That’s weird jerk behaviour. But I’ve also seen examples of this kind of popup generated from ad serves on legit sites. That shouldn’t be able to happen, because ordinarily there’s a process to screen ads before they get served. No funny business. Nice site owners don’t want this nonsense assailing their visitors.

But every so often, and always on a weekend when the response time is slower, I’ve seen filthy java swapped in and served up on an ad serve. My response was to let the site owners know, because, you know, that’s nice, right? But the response isn’t always the same. Example:

One weekend, the same dud ad server was hijacking two sites I really liked. Screen grabbed it and noted the address and IP. The popular science site guys’ response: THANK YOU! We are so grateful!! (Immediately pulled the plug on the ad we’d IDed). In contrast, the popular writers’ site: it’s not US, it’s YOU! It’s your filthy device! Go away, cyber wench!

Argh.

Moral of the story: popups are annoying but not necessarily the end of the world. But if someone tells you that there’s a rogue popup on your site, fix it or find someone who can. Because you already know how awful they are, and you wouldn’t wish that on your guests. :)
Reply
Happy2Learn Premium
Thanks for sharing. Now we can all learn together.
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Thanks for the detail here Ivy. I am not as techy as some people and it is nice to get the right advice from someone who is!

It is interesting how different reactions by a site owner to this can totally change user experience.


Jessica
Reply
Joshua2765 Premium
As you saw, Jessica, scams like this are tailored to specific times of the year to take advantage of consumer fears. Tax season is a time when many people are doing their taxes on their computers. Being shut down for even a short while is simply unacceptable for most people. These scam-scum know that!

Anyway, I am glad it worked out for you.

Continued success,

Joshua
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Wow! That is a brilliant observation Joshua! Thanks for pointing that out. I had not thought of that. Makes perfect sense.
Jessica
Reply
CarolMeador Premium
Hi, Jessica. I got a similar message on my laptop last summer. It said that the only way to get rid of it was to call a certain number. I did call, and I think this was a ransomwear, since they told me that the only way I could get my screen unlocked was by a "certified Microsoft technician." I told them I have one locally, and they argued with me, saying that my computer guy didn't have the right training.

I called my computer repair tech, and was told that he does have all the necessary training and certification, and that was a scam, which I had already figured out.

My computer guy told me that since my laptop was several years old and it would take a lot of his time at $95/hour, that the computer wasn't worth fixing...it would cost more than it was worth. Getting a new laptop was cheaper.

I hate Windows 10, and since the new laptops have that on it, I opted to buy a reconditioned desktop from him. I'm thinking I'll eventually need to get a laptop again so I can take it with me, but for now, I'm doing quite well with this old dinosaur!

Carol
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Hi Carol,
Mine is pretty old too but I keep using it anyway. I am glad you didn't pay the scammers! Apparently the same thing happened to Steve (skmorrow) this weekend. It's going around so beware!
Reply
CarolMeador Premium
Thanks for the warning. It would be so easy for scammers to take advantage of people with scams like that if we weren't aware of them and what they were up to. Carol
Reply
skmorrow Premium
I can't believe it, this just happened to me over the weekend. For some reason, I was able to close the message. Yes, it was a message with a phone number to Microsoft. Ugh, this is so frustrating.

Thank you for the advice, and the advice of others, like unplugging the internet, great ideas!
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Wow! It's going around! I couldn't close it no matter what I did so I am glad I remembered to take out the battery!

You are welcome!
J.
Reply
Maddy55 Premium
The same thing happened to another member here, named Veronica, she wrote a Blog about it. You did the right thing :) She actually called the number but wound up pulling out her battery too! I will be on the alert for that too! Thanks for sharing. You can enjoy her story here
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Oh my goodness! Yes, another member here Steve (skmorrow) just said it happened to him this weekend too!

Thanks!
Reply
ContentBySue Premium
This has come up for me as well. I turned off the internet immediately because, apparently, it takes a while for the hackers to download their Trojan. I also removed the battery. After setting back up again I ran a really good cleaner and all was good.

Their aim is to take over your computer and, as you said, get your information and your money.

I'm glad you thought fast, Jessica, and averted any danger.

All the best,
Sue
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Thanks Sue! I am so glad you averted disaster too!
Reply
Defiant6 Premium
I've actually had that appear on my desktop computer a couple of times. I immediately unplugged my computer and waited a little bit before I plugged it back in (the first time this happened). The second time I just pushed in and held the power button until it automatically shut off. That seemed to do the trick as well.
Reply
Swangirl Premium
Good to know! I have not had it happen on a desktop yet.
Thanks
Reply