A few readers have written, saying that they recently received Skype phone calls urging them to download and install a system update for Microsoft Windows. Users who visit the recommended site are bombarded with the same old scareware prompts that try to frighten them into purchasing worthless security software.
Scareware scams are nothing new to Skype: They have spread for some time now over the instant message client built into Skype, but this is the first I’ve heard of rogue anti-virus peddlers resorting to robocalls via Skype to spread their junk software.
One quick-thinking reader managed to record the tail end of the call, which is available by clicking here. It says, “To download the patch update, request professional maintenance at www.sosgt.com.” It seems from this thread on the Skype.com user forum that a great many others are getting these rogue AV calls.
If you visit that site (probably best to avoid it), your browser is immediately shown what I call the “scamscan” pop-up screen (see image above), made to fool you into thinking there are a ton of threats on your machine that need neutralizing. The funny thing about these fake scans is they will tell you that your machine has Windows-based malware whether you browse the page with a Windows PC or a Mac. Yet, one curious aspect of this scam is that there doesn’t appear to be any actual hijacking malware or downloader involved: If you click the “Erase all Threats” button in the pop-up generated by the site, you’re taken to a page that offers you “professional online repair service,” and they offer both Mac and Windows plans! How sweet they are!
Another odd twist is that this scam, which ultimately redirects the user to secureonlinestore.net, leverages the online payment platform of SWReg, one of several automated software payment processing systems run by legitimate processing firm Digital River.