Recently I wasn’t paying attention and clicked something I shouldn’t have. I got a [update: not the Conduit virus] virus on my Windows machine and it dug in deep.
[Update 2: The virus (which is not the Conduit virust after all) is still on my machine. Microsoft’s tech help couldn’t get it. MalwareBytes, ADWcleaner, and Hitman 3 can’t see it. So I had to get a second monitor just to handle the fake pop-ups. I put them all on the second monitor and turn it off.
Oh, I haven’t given up. But I’m impressed at the scam because I can describe it in detail and no one but Microsoft actually believes it is real. So here’s the real published Microsoft number to check for yourself i you you like: 800-642-7676. I’ve called it twice and confirmed twice that the Windows activation message is a well-known scam that Microsoft is actively hunting down. (They know approximately where the perps live.)
Indeed the scammers do somehow have a phone number that used to belong to Microsoft. That seems confirmed. But if you ask Microsoft, they will tell you the 866-530-6599 number is scammers. The fake phone number seems to be the key to the whole scam. When I first questioned them about their credentials the first thing out of their mouths is “You can Google our phone number.” The real Microsoft goes through a more clever credentials confirmation process.
When I said I lost a week of work, I meant I couldn’t get anything done for a week. I didn’t lose files. I do back-ups, of course. Although I doubt they are actually working. I’ve backed up every computer I’ve owned and never had a backup system that worked yet.
Nor have I ever had a missing driver that Windows could find for me automatically. Some things are just placebos.]
[Update 3: As a valuable service I’m going to delete any comments after today that still suspect the scam is a real Microsoft message and I’m playing some sort of prank because anyone coming here for real information would be misled by the comments.