"Your Google Account Has Been Locked!" Scam
The "Your Google Account Has Been Locked!" scam is a deceptive scheme that our research team recently uncovered while examining fraudulent websites. Specifically, this scam falls into the category of technical support scams, which aim to deceive users into believing that their digital security is compromised and then offer fake assistance to resolve the issue. It's important to emphasize that this scam has no affiliation with Google LLC or any of its products or services.
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The Nature of the Scam: Technical Support Deception
When a user encounters a webpage hosting this scam, a pop-up message appears, asserting that their Google account has been locked due to recent visits to untrustworthy websites. The message prompts the user to call a "Google Support" hotline to unlock their device.
The background page elaborates on the fictitious threat, suggesting potential theft of banking data, personal photographs, and unauthorized access to devices connected to the compromised Google account. It warns that unless immediate action is taken, the user's device may be permanently blocked. Consequently, the scam urges users to call the bogus support hotline.
False Claims of Google Account Locking
As previously mentioned, all the claims made by "Your Google Account Has Been Locked!" are entirely false, and this scam is an attempt to trick users into divulging sensitive information or taking actions that would compromise their cybersecurity.
Typically, technical support scams involve victims calling fake helplines, where scammers impersonate support technicians or experts. Once the victim is on the line, scammers employ various tactics to exploit them, including coaxing them into revealing private information over the phone, visiting malicious websites, and downloading/installing malware on their devices. This often includes remote access tools like UltraViewer, TeamViewer, or AnyDesk.
The Risks Associated with Technical Support Scams
Once connected to the victim's device, scammers can disable genuine security tools, install fake antivirus software, steal sensitive information, and even introduce real malware such as trojans, ransomware, or cryptominers.
Given that "Your Google Account Has Been Locked!" centers around Google accounts, it's likely that the scammers are targeting login credentials for these accounts. Google accounts are versatile and may be linked to multiple devices, making their compromise a serious concern.
The Prevalence of Deceptive Online Content
Cybercriminals frequently seek login credentials for various accounts, including emails, social media, messaging platforms, e-commerce websites, online banking, and cryptocurrency wallets. Additionally, they may be interested in personally identifiable information like names, ages, addresses, and financial data such as banking details and credit card numbers. Such information can be exploited for various illicit purposes, including identity theft.
Furthermore, fake support services offered by scammers tend to come with exorbitant fees. To evade detection and make it difficult to trace payments, scammers may demand payment in cryptocurrency, gift cards, pre-paid vouchers, or hide cash within seemingly innocent packages, which they then have shipped. Victims who fall for such scams may find themselves targeted repeatedly.
In summary, individuals who become victims of scams like "Your Google Account Has Been Locked!" may experience a range of consequences, including system infections, data loss, privacy breaches, substantial financial losses, and even identity theft.
Tips to Avoid Visiting Scam Websites
If you find yourself on a scam page that you cannot close, you can end the browser's process using Windows Task Manager. After reopening the browser, ensure that the previous browsing session is not restored, as this could reopen the deceptive webpage.
If you've allowed cybercriminals remote access to your device, disconnect it from the internet immediately. Remove any remote access software the scammers used, as they may attempt to regain access without your consent. Run a comprehensive system scan with antivirus software to remove any detected threats.
If you've provided your login credentials, change the passwords for all potentially compromised accounts and notify their official support teams promptly. If you've disclosed other sensitive information, such as ID card details, passport scans/photos, or credit card numbers, contact the relevant authorities without delay.
Examples of Technical Support Scams
This scam is just one example of technical support scams that prey on unsuspecting individuals. "Error Code: W9KA528V," "Subscription Renewed Successfully For 349$," and "Error Code: 0x80073b01" are other examples of scams we have recently investigated. The internet is rife with deceptive and malicious content, including fake warnings, alerts, errors, and scams disguised as legitimate service providers.
Given the prevalence of fraudulent and dangerous content online, it is crucial to exercise caution while browsing the web. Scam websites can be triggered when visiting pages with rogue advertising networks, interacting with content on such pages (e.g., clicking buttons, filling out forms, clicking ads or links), or misspelling a website's URL, leading to redirects to deceptive pages.
Exercising Caution While Browsing Online
Intrusive advertisements and spam browser notifications can also promote online scams, and adware may display ads endorsing fraudulent content or open sites hosting scams.
To avoid falling victim to such scams, it is essential to be vigilant while browsing. Avoid websites that use rogue advertising networks, such as those offering pirated software or questionable services like torrenting or illegal streaming and downloading. Pay close attention to URLs and avoid permitting suspicious websites to send browser notifications. Only download software and content from official and verified sources, and exercise caution during installation processes to avoid bundling harmful software with legitimate downloads.