Scammers impersonate software maker McAfee in new impostor scam

Photo (c) David Peperkamp – Getty Images

Consumers across the United States have reportedly received emails that appear to be from software company McAfee seeking to confirm a purchase that never happened. Law enforcement officials say this is one of the latest incarnations of the impostor scam.

Imposter scams are dangerous because the scammer is impersonating a familiar person, business, or government agency. In the case of the latest McAfee scam, the scheme is designed to elicit a panicked response.

“Thank you for your purchase!” the subject line reads. The body of the email indicates that the consumer’s account has been re-approved and a debit or credit card has been charged several hundred dollars.

The email encourages the recipient to call a phone number if they wish to cancel. Other versions require recipients to click on a link. Either method puts the victim in touch with a scammer.

The scammer assumes the recipient does not have a McAfee account and will react emotionally to what appears to be a false accusation. In the process, a number of dangerous activities could take place.

“If you click on a link, it may install malware on your computer,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said. “Malware can crash your device and can be used to monitor and control your online activity, steal your personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.”

If you end up on a phone call with the scammer, Rosenblum said you’ll likely be asked to provide personal information or make some sort of payment.

How to spot these scams

There are ways to guard against this and other impostor scams. If you receive a suspicious email purporting to be from a company, carefully examine the email address and domain the email was sent from.

When you examine the sender address, if you find that the email is from a domain not associated with the company, it is fake. Rosenblum says you should delete the email without clicking any links.

There are several other impostor scams using the McAfee name. In July, Snopes.com reported an email doing the rounds with the subject line “McAfee Support.” He urged recipients to “hurry up and update your license” because their device was in danger.

The email contained several links that all led to the same page. According to the publishers of Snopes, the scammers’ goal is likely to compromise users’ online accounts, personal and financial information, credit and debit card numbers, social security numbers and other sensitive data.