Another day, another scam. Fraudsters have established a new way to exploit users, in a very tricky and well-thought scam involving Craigslist and Google Voice.
Google Voice Craigslist Scam: How Does It Happen?
The scam was recently reported by ABC11 who were contacted by a viewer who got scammed. Apparently, the viewer stumbled upon the scam in an attempt to sell baby equipment. He posted an ad on Craigslist , and shortly after that he received requests for the item.
In the first text, the supposed buyer agreed to pay cash, but to make sure the post is not fake, the buyer texted he wanted to send a Google code to the phone number listed on the ad, ABC11 reports. After the buyer sent this code, the ABC11 viewer received texts from Google phone service, also known as Google Voice. The text contained a six-digit code. So, where is the catch?
If you give the verification code to the supposed buyer, they could use the code as well as your phone number (taken from the ad) to get their own free Google phone number. This number could be used in suspicious and scam activities, without you ever learning about it. Another dangerous outcome is that scammers could get access to your Google account, in case they have enough information.
This is what the scam is, as summarized by Platinum Product Expert Bluescat on Support.google.com:
1. You put your own personal telephone number (mobile or landline number) out in public somewhere (on a classified ad, or a dating website, or wherever).
2. Some scammer contacts you via text or email about your ad. They tell you a story about how they need you to prove you are real person, or a legitimate seller, not a bot, and that they are using a special phone service that requires that you give them the six-digit code number that will be played to you by an automated verification call or text message you will receive from Google.
3. The scammer is, in reality, going through the Google Voice setup process. They tell Google Voice to call your personal number, and then the call speaks the code, or the text message supplies the code, along with a warning to not share the code with anyone. Somehow, you ignore that explicit warning and give the scammer the code number. When you do that, THEY, not you, are issued a Google Voice number, using your personal number as the forwarding number for their account.
To avoid any of this from happening to you, you should never share the six-digit code with anyone else, as is stated in the message sent out by Google.
There are several other steps you can take. The very first thing to do is visit https://voice.google.com/about and select Get Google Voice, in case you don’t have a Google Voice account.
1. Go to https://voice.google.com and, if you have never created a Voice account, click the “Get a Voice number” link, and then follow the instructions to get a Google Voice number. When asked to link a forwarding phone number, don’t enter your number that the scammer stole. Instead, enter some other phone number, at which you can receive one verification call from Google. It can be any non-VoIP home or office or mobile number, which hasn’t been previously-used to obtain a Google Voice number. You can remove it later, after you recover your stolen number.
2. This time, do answer the verification call or read the text message, and then enter the six digit verification code from Google. Never do this under any circumstances, other than when you initiate this procedure yourself.
3. After your account is set up, go to this page: https://voice.google.com/settings
4. Click the rectangular box, that says “+ New linked number” to link another number. Now, enter your scammed phone number as the forwarding phone you wish to add. If the reclaim process for this number hasn’t been used repeatedly in the past, you will get a warning that the number is currently in use on another account (duh!), and would you like to reclaim it. Respond yes, of course. This will remove the number from the scammer’s account.
5. Note: if you do not get a warning that your number is in use, this simply means that the scammer had already removed it from their account, and you now have nothing to worry about. Please don’t post more questions, asking if you need to do anything else. Your number is safe, and you are finished. Understand: your own security has not been compromised; this scam only leveraged your personal phone number as an “admission ticket” for the scammer.
6. Please be cautious of fraud when interacting with strangers on online sites, especially on Craigslist, which is a frequent target of scammers. Never, ever share verification codes with anyone. No legitimate business will ask for that information. This is an example of the clear warning to not share verification codes with ANYONE.
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1.2 After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.
1.3 After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.
1.4 After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.
If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.
Step 2: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode
2.1 Hold Windows key + R
2.2 The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.
2.3 Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.
2.4 When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.
2.5 You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.
Step 3: Uninstall and related software from Windows
Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs.No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it.
3.1 Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.
3.2 In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.
3.3 This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.
Step 4: Clean Any registries, Created by on Your PC.
The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:
You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:
4.1 Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.
4.2 When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.
4.3 You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.
Video Removal Guide for (Windows).
Get rid of from Mac OS X.
Step 1: Uninstall and remove related files and objects
1.1 Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:
1.2 Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:
1.3 In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to :
Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.
1.4 Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.
1.5 In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to . If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.
1.6 Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference.
Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to . Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.
1.7 Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:
Go to Finder.
In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.
In case you cannot remove via Step 1 above:
In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:
Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!
1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:
2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:
3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as . If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.
You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:
Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.
Step 2: Scan for and remove files from your Mac
When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as , the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. SpyHunter for Mac offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.
Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for :
Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu
Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"
Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Erase from Mozilla Firefox.
Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window:
Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.
Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"
Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.
Uninstall from Microsoft Edge.
Step 1: Start Edge browser.
Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.
Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".
Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.
Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.
Remove from Safari
Step 1: Start the Safari app.
Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.
Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".
Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.
Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.
Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.
A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the will be removed.
How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.
Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.
Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.
Eliminate from Internet Explorer.
Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.
Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'
Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.
Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.
Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.
Remove Push Notifications from Your Browsers
Turn Off Push Notifications from Google Chrome
To disable any Push Notices from Google Chrome browser, please follow the steps below:
Step 1: Go to Settings in Chrome.
Step 2: In Settings, select “Advanced Settings”:
Step 3: Click “Content Settings”:
Step 4: Open “Notifications”:
Step 5: Click the three dots and choose Block, Edit or Remove options:
Remove Push Notifications on Firefox
Step 1: Go to Firefox Options.
Step 2: Go to “Settings”, type “notifications” in the search bar and click "Settings":
Step 3: Click “Remove” on any site you wish notifications gone and click “Save Changes”
Stop Push Notifications on Opera
Step 1: In Opera, press ALT+P to go to Settings.
Step 2: In Setting search, type “Content” to go to Content Settings.
Step 3: Open Notifications:
Step 4: Do the same as you did with Google Chrome (explained below):
Eliminate Push Notifications on Safari
Step 1: Open Safari Preferences.
Step 2: Choose the domain from where you like push pop-ups gone and change to "Deny" from "Allow".
It may slow your computer down significantly and display advertisements. The main idea is for your information to likely get stolen or more ads to appear on your device.
The creators of such unwanted apps work with pay-per-click schemes to get your computer to visit risky or different types of websites that may generate them funds. This is why they do not even care what types of websites show up on the ads. This makes their unwanted software indirectly risky for your OS.
What Are the Symptoms of ?
There are several symptoms to look for when this particular threat and also unwanted apps in general are active:
Symptom #1: Your computer may become slow and have poor performance in general.
Symptom #2: You have toolbars, add-ons or extensions on your web browsers that you don't remember adding.
Symptom #3: You see all types of ads, like ad-supported search results, pop-ups and redirects to randomly appear.
Symptom #4: You see installed apps on your Mac running automatically and you do not remember installing them.
Symptom #5: You see suspicious processes running in your Task Manager.
If you see one or more of those symptoms, then security experts recommend that you check your computer for viruses.
What Types of Unwanted Programs Are There?
According to most malware researchers and cyber-security experts, the threats that can currently affect your Mac can be the following types:
Rogue Antivirus programs.
What to Do If I Have a "virus" like ?
With few simple actions. First and foremost, it is imperative that you follow these steps:
Step 1:Find a safe computer and connect it to another network, not the one that your Mac was infected in.
Step 2:Change all of your passwords, starting from your email passwords.
Step 3: Enable two-factor authentication for protection of your important accounts.
Step 4: Call your bank to change your credit card details (secret code, etc.) if you have saved your credit card for online shopping or have done online activities with your card.
Step 5: Make sure to call your ISP (Internet provider or carrier) and ask them to change your IP address.
Step 6: Change your Wi-Fi password.
Step 7:(Optional): Make sure to scan all of the devices connected to your network for viruses and repeat these steps for them if they are affected.
Step 8:Install anti-malware software with real-time protection on every device you have.
Step 9: Try not to download software from sites you know nothing about and stay away from low-reputation websites in general.
If you follow these recommendations, your network and all devices will become significantly more secure against any threats or information invasive software and be virus free and protected in the future too.
How Does Work?
Once installed, can collect data about your web browsing habits, such as the websites you visit and the search terms you use. This data is then used to target you with ads or to sell your information to third parties.
can also download other malicious software onto your computer, such as viruses and spyware, which can be used to steal your personal information and show risky ads, that may redirect to virus sites or scams.
The truth is that PUPs (adware, browser hijackers) are not viruses, but may be just as dangerous since they may show you and redirect you to malware websites and scam pages.
Many security experts classify potentially unwanted programs as malware. This is because of the unwanted effects that PUPs can cause, such as displaying intrusive ads and collecting user data without the user’s knowledge or consent.
About the Research
The content we publish on SensorsTechForum.com, this how-to removal guide included, is the outcome of extensive research, hard work and our team’s devotion to help you remove the specific, adware-related problem, and restore your browser and computer system.
How did we conduct the research on ?
Please note that our research is based on independent investigation. We are in contact with independent security researchers, thanks to which we receive daily updates on the latest malware, adware, and browser hijacker definitions.
Furthermore, the research behind the threat is backed with VirusTotal.
To better understand this online threat, please refer to the following articles which provide knowledgeable details.