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Beware Of Fake Computer Cleanup


Gerry from NY is struggling with malware on his computer… malware that he paid a pretty penny for.  He writes :”I have been duped by a “computer cleanup” program that was not done but was billed $400 for. They tell me to go to ‘eventvwr” and see how many items there are that “are not good for my computer”. I’m almost 80 years old and am NOT a geek. Are these items to be deleted from the event viewer and how can I do it?”

Hi, Gerry.  Thanks for the great question, and I’ll be happy to answer it, but first I have this bridge in New York that I think that you’d be interested in, and a Nigerian prince that needs your help…


Nah, I’m kidding.  But seriously, you’re right, you’ve been duped.  But don’t feel bad.  Somehow, as the public internet goes into its third decade, people are still falling for these things.  The first thing that I’ll suggest is the name of a seminar that a woman that I met once in Seattle offered about malware… “Don’t Click on Anything…  EVER!”  If you see a popup on your screen that says anything about viruses or malware or spyware, and you don’t recognize the program telling you about it, don’t click on it.


You’ve got some kind of malicious program on your computer.  Also, let a $400 price tag be an alarm bell.  Fully licensed versions of even the best anti-malware programs (AVG, Norton, McAfee) will typically run you less than $100.  And I know that AVG at least offers a great version of their software for free.  How do I know this?  Because it’s what I’m running on this computer right now.  They will protect you from malicious software like this.  Just as a personal aside, contact your credit card company and see if they can reverse that charge because it’s fraud.  I don’t know if they can or not, but it’s worth a try.

Now, as far as computer clean-up goes, the first advice that I would give you is to NOT do anything that this malicious software tells you to do.  The next thing that I would suggest is to take your computer to friendly neighborhood geek and get that thing completely removed from your computer.  Once that’s done, install a good anti-virus software.  Your geek may have a good free program that he can install for you.  If not, and you don’t want to pay for one, I’d recommend AVG’s free version.  You can also ask your geek to clean up your hard drive for you.  He or she will know what can be safely removed and what can’t.  If they won’t, then you can download an excellent (again, free) program called Ccleaner.  It can be downloaded from a number of reliable sites like, but if you want to get it straight from the source, their website is  This program will give you options of what you’d like to remove.

The last thing that I’d like to suggest is that you become… at least to some degree… a geek.  Learn what you can about your computer, and what you can do to keep it safe.  Check with your local library to find out what good free classes for seniors are offered in your area.

I hope that this helps.

~Randal Schaffer

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19 Responses to “Beware Of Fake Computer Cleanup”

  1. Dennis Smith says:

    First you tell them to install Ccleaner, then you tell them to download it from a site that is so full of misleading download buttons that contain more crapware – an oxymoron at best. I always avoid because it is so difficult to determine which of the 12 “Download Now” buttons is the one for the program that I really want.

  2. Peter B. says:

    I keep on getting calls from Mr. or Mrs. INDIA saying they are from Microsoft and they have noticed some bad things happening on my computer. So rather than hanging up immediately I usually play with the clueless imbeciles for a while. Then when it gets boring I ask if they will marry me or something like that. Then they hang up.

    • Roy Holland Sr. says:

      Keep up the good work! It is a good feeling to get something over on those jerks. It appears that you have come upon the answer! Now, if there was a way to get them to remove your name from their calling list, that would be great. If you do find a way to do so, please post it for the rest of us unlucky beings. This is great!

      • cynthia says:

        Roy – these people are criminals. So, they aren’t likely to be concerned with a calling list. And truthfully, there may not be any list. They just call every number there is at random and wait for someone to fall for it.

  3. Glenn M says:

    I had a similar experience from the scammers that called and said they were from System Mechanic {IOLO) which I do use and like on my computer. They said there was a problem with my computer and for a fee they would fix it. After a while, I determined this was scam. I got rid of them by saying I would just by a new computer rather than paying for their service.

  4. Liviu Giuroiu says:

    Gerry, you are not alone! A friend of mine received a notification in her computer saying that it’s virus infected and needs to call a certain number. She did not know it’s a scam, and fell for it. They asked to let them in the computer to “clean” it, and charged over $400! When I heard, I told her to call her credit card company and tell them about the scam. They helped her to reverse the charge, but after a lot of headaches!
    For a while, I receive notification in my computer that the Windows driver needs to be updated! I am very familiar with these crooks, and don’t go for it, but other people may get scared…

  5. connie stevens says:

    Lately I will open a link and it takes over claiming I have a virus or adware, etc. It tells me to not shut down the computer but to call them at such and such number. I know it is a scam but unfortunately, it locks into my computer and I can neither close it or my browser. I force a shut down and if I am quick enough on reopen< I can close the window it is in when it restarts. If not, I have to do it again as it opens with the browser. What is a better way to handle this problem? Both my virus, and firewall can't find it.

    • Roy Holland Sr. says:

      Connie, See my post just below this post. It details what may help you. Most of the time, they want a fee to either remove the bug or pay for a program you have to run. First thing, when the first item crops up, DON’T CLICK ON ANYTHING EXCEPT “DELETE” Anything else opens the door for them. It may not even allow you to delete but at least it is a try. If this is unrepairable, the next thing is to do a clean install if you have your operating cd. If not, check out my post below. It may take some doing, I hope you can get inside to do a “clean reset to factory specs.” This will return your computer to like it came from the factory! It has two choices, save all files, or clean sweep. I recommend clean sweep as the files may have the bug hidden inside one of them and you would be re-infected all over again. I understand most people have very important files stored on the computer. This is the reason backup is so highly recommended to an external drive or other storage source. Good luck in whatever you decide to do. Roy.

  6. sacred dare says:

    REPLY TO CONNIE STEVENS- This used to happen to me frequently The best solution is to refresh your browser. Also I run all my browsers in Private or Incognito Mode. Most importantly, make sure your pop-up settings are set at the highest level. No matter what you read/hear I recommend an ad blocker also.

  7. LYN says:

    A credit charge can be reversed up to 18 months. So pay everything with a card and you have time to see what is going on.

  8. Roy Holland Sr. says:

    A few weeks back, my friend received a scam as you mentioned above. He was not familiar with the circumstances and tried to check it out with calling the number supplied. He was immediately advised to pay the high fee for a program that they could only use to remove the problem.
    After getting upset and not knowing what to do, he asked for my help. When he arrived and the computer was connected to the internet, he showed what was going on and told me as much as possible about what he had done. It was too late to do anything to try to eradicate the problem. (It would have taken many hours of searching for different repair programs and still may not have gotten any results).
    The unit would only allow some action. (We did nothing online). It allowed some searching of the computer, we found the “Reset to factory specs” window. It was decided to try this, which was exactly what was needed to make the computer like new again.
    You have two choices. Save present files, or do a clean sweep of everything on windows C partition. (I recommend doing a clean sweep). If not, some of the files saved probably have the bug hidden in them and re-infect the computer all over again. We chose “clean sweep”. After close to three hours of re-installation of a clean source of the Operating system, it was perfect! He is extremely happy. no more worry about having to pay the large fee. (NEVER PAY WHAT THEY ASK OR CLICK ON ANYTHING! DELETE EVERYTHING IF POSSIBLE!). It has been over a month and the computer is still perfect!
    I highly recommend this function if possible rather than trying to remove the bug with alternate programs which may or may not be available. Windows 10,8, 8.1 and I believe win 7 has this reset to factory specs available to use.
    Good luck to anyone caught in this type of situation. Roy Holland Sr.

  9. Marie says:

    I use C-cleaner and it works very well, I’ve recommended it to several people. I also use AVG Pro. I used to use the free version but decided to get the Pro a couple years ago and the yearly fee is well worth it.

    I too have gotten calls from so called Microsoft people, etc. I handle them by saying “How can you tell my computer has a problem when I do not own a computer, and never have”. They then ask if I have a tablet etc. To which I reply “No and I don’t want one”. This usualy kicks the floor out from under them and they hang up, without even saying sorry.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t stop the next India Idiot from trying it, but it gives me great pleasure when they gasp as if I am still in the stone age.

  10. Valerie says:

    Good tips but Gerry from NY can also go to his senior center and join for a small fee. They have very good computer classes and also some of the teachers will come to your home and help you. I have learned a great deal about my computer in the classes but would never attempt to do the cleanup it seems Gerry was doing I would get help. Also good to see that Marie tells the callers she has no computer, I do the same thing or if I don’t recognize the number I don’t answer.

  11. […] response to our Beware Of Fake Cleanup article, Roy writes:  “Keep up the good work! It is a good feeling to get something over on those […]

  12. Lynne2232 says:

    Why doesn’t Microsoft release a statement disclaiming this “Your computer is infected”. that would help a lot of people who bought their software>

    • cynthia says:

      Actually, Microsoft has warned about fake call and cleanup scams multiple times over the years. But then again, so have we. But not everyone seems to get the message.

  13. Camile S says:

    I get called every few months from these criminals and usually tell them I don’t have a computer, they usually hang up immediately. I also use a program called Redo Backup and Recovery which can be used to make an image backup of your computer which can be used to restore to a “clean” backup if your computer is infected; of course you lose any files and programs you installed after the image backup but it’s still better than a full reinstall.

  14. KD says:

    For $400 you could by a NEW, CLEAN computer!

  15. Ernest White says:

    I know the feeling for I had this happen to me not long ago. They wanted $200.00 I told them I live on Social Security & don’t have that kind of money. they try $50.00 & I said I get paid once a month. I have to pay my rent & the Gas plus Electric bill plus doctor bills. I got them down to $20.00 & they wanted a check.They said hold a blank check up to the screen so the can copy it. I was from an account that I closed about a year ago. I got back my computer & I clean it out.

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