Scammers are targeting website owners via messages claiming that a negative video about their site is circulating.
The messages claim that the video is going viral. They urge you to click a link to view the supposed video.
But there is no video, negative or otherwise. The messages are designed to trick you into allowing push notifications that promote scam or malware websites. Some versions may also try to trick you into installing malware.
Here’s an example of the scam message:
Clicking the link opens a website that supposedly hosts the offending video. But, the video player will be greyed out and will display the following pop-up message:
If you do click “Allow” as instructed, you will then be prompted to click “Allow” again via a browser “Show Notifications” message:
But, by clicking “Allow”, you are giving permission for a scam website to send you push notifications. Some of the notifications may open dodgy web pages crammed with malicious advertisements. Others may open sites that harbour various types of malware.
In some cases, after clicking Allow and following further instructions, malware may be installed on your computer. This malware may send malicious advertisements directly to your desktop even if your browser is closed. Or, it may hijack your browser and automatically redirect you to scam websites. It may also change your browser home page without permission, interfere with your normal browsing experience, and significantly slow down your Internet service.
If you encounter the bogus “Can’t play video” message, do not click the “Allow” button either on the pop-up or on the push notification.
Dealing With the Threat
If you have NOT clicked the “Allow” button:
First, try closing the browser window that contains the scam pop-up. In many cases, this is all that is required.
However, in some cases, you may find it difficult or impossible to close the popup window. Or, if you can close it, it may keep reappearing. If so, you will need to terminate the processes associated with your browser by taking the following steps:
1: Hit “Control – Alt -Delete” on your keyboard and then click “Task Manager”.
2: With the “Processes” tab active, highlight any processes related to your browser and hit the “End Task” button at the bottom of the Task Manager window.
1: Hit “Command + Option + Esc to open the “Force Quit Applications” window.
2: Select the name of the browser you are using and hit the “Force Quit” button.
If you have allowed push notifications due to
If you HAVE clicked the “Allow” button:
You will need to disable the scam push notification via your browser settings.
The steps that you need to take depend on which browser you are using. This Digital Trends report provides step by step instructions for common Intenet browsers.
If you suspect that your computer has been infected by malware as a result of the “Can’t play video” scam message, you can follow the detailed removal instructions outlined in this Bleeping Computer article.
It would also be wise to scan your computer for malware. We recommend Malwarebytes, which is free for home users.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!