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Recently, a large number of online scams have started occurring with the help of a legitimate software service called and a software tool provided by that service named GoToAssist.exe. This service basically allows tech support operators to gain access to your PC and resolve different problems that you might have. However, dishonest cyber crooks seem to have been able to find a way to exploit and GoToAssist.exe for online scams. Down below, you will learn what the basic scheme of such scams is and what you need to be on the look out for in order to avoid falling prey to this type of shady agendas.

The gist of the scam

Now, we do not know how many groups of people are conducting the scam, it might be just one single group of scammers or there might be several of them. Regardless, the methods seems to be relatively similar in the majority of instances. Here, we have tried to provide you with a general analysis of how this scam works. We have separated it in four stages:

Stage 1

The scammers first need to establish some sort of contact with the targeted user. This might happen in different ways. For instance, you might have some issue with your PC and you might make a google search for the tech-support team that might be able to help you. However, some of the crooks behind the scheme seem to have managed to push their sites’ ratings up Google’s rating system meaning that many users might come across those sites while conducting searches relate to their issue. Some users who have been targeted by the scam even report that the scammers’ sites have been on the top of their Google search. Naturally, the first thing on would do is open the suggested result which would lead them directly to the cyber crook.

Another way that the scammers use in order to connect with potential victims is by utilizing browser hijacking programs and spamming victims with misleading pop-ups urging them to call a phone number and telling them that there’s some sort of issue with their PC while pretending to be representatives of some popular and legitimate company (such as Microsoft). If the user falls for the bait, the scam moves on to Stage 2.

Stage 2

Here’s where the service and the GoToAssist.exe program come into play. The targeted user is asked to visit this service’s site. Once there, the user is supposed to enter their name and a code that is provided to them by the scammer (note that in most cases, the online crook would be on the phone with their victim, “guiding” them through the process that is to follow while, as we said above, pretending to be a legitimate tech-support operator). Once the name and code have been entered, the user is prompted to download GoToAssist.exe – a software tool that while running provides remote access to the PC for the tech operator (in this case, the scammer). After the tool is downloaded and run on the PC, the customer would be prompted to allow the beginning of a session with the operator where the latter would gain access to the computer. If the victim agrees, Stage 3 is initiated.

Stage 3

Once the crook has gained remote access through the service, they would typically download and install some other software on the targeted PC. According to user reports, the said software downloaded by the scammers has detected certain issues within the PC. This leads us to believe that whatever the crooks download is some sort of fake anti-malware program that is supposed to intimidate the scam’s victims by reporting detected malware or some other type of software-related issues.

Stage 4

Once the (fake) warning about the malware/other problems inside the PC have been shown to the user, the scammer informs them that the only way to resolve the (non-existent) problem is to buy some license from them for some other program (or for the full version of the same program). This last stage is actually a very common practice that many cyber fraudsters use in order to trick users into buying some piece of questionable software that is probably not needed on the PC so that a certain issue with the computer can be resolved – an issue that has never really been there to begin with.

Our advice

More experienced and tech-savvy users should usually have no problem recognizing the scam and shutting it down in its early stages. However, everybody can make a mistake from time to time, especially if you aren’t very well-oriented in the online world. In order to stay safe and make sure that you don’t fall for such scams, it is essential that you use your common sense and only trust people that can verify that they are who they claim to be. For instance, if someone calls you and claims that your PC is in danger and you need to do something about it, it doesn’t matter if this person claims that they work for Microsoft – they cannot verify that and, besides, no reputable software company would ever do that. Just stay smart and do not trust random people online just because they have told you that your machine needs fixing. Also, if you have recently been subjected to such a scam, we advise you to uninstall the GoToAssist.exe program in order to ensure that no one has unauthorized access to your PC. So far, we haven’t received any reports about stolen personal data or computers infected by malware as a result of this fraudulent scheme but it’s still better to be on the safe side and make sure that the crooks no longer have any kind of access to your computer. 


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You are dealing with a malware infection that can restore itself unless you remove its core files. We are sending you to another page with a removal guide that gets regularly updated. It covers in-depth instructions on how to:
1. Locate and scan malicious processes in your task manager.
2. Identify in your Control panel any programs installed with the malware, and how to remove them. Search Marquis is a high-profile hijacker that gets installed with a lot of malware.
3. How to clean up and reset your browser to its original settings without the malware returning.
You can find the removal guide here.
For mobile devices refer to these guides instead: Android, iPhone.


About the author


Brandon Skies

Brandon is a researcher and content creator in the fields of cyber-security and virtual privacy. Years of experience enable him to provide readers with important information and adequate solutions for the latest software and malware problems.


  • There are warnings before the fastsupport scam hits. I had Chrome open, when I clicked a link it would open – with an unrelated window opening first that was an ad. I was trying to figure out why this was happening, either before or after I downloaded free files from Cyberlink – a legitimate company/site. I believe they somehow cause this to happen first, to make you think you have a problem. Then all windows locked, a red box, with white text said there’s a Chrome security problem & to call “Microsoft.” I called just to learn what they’re doing – a woman with a heavy accent said she was from Microsoft, asked me to open the “Run” function and enter “iexplore” then a number & I hung up. NEVER allow access to your system from someone contacting you – only if you request it for tech.

  • If you have the time, keep them on the line for as long as you can. Every minute they are talking to you, they are not stealing from somebody’s grandma.

    First I explained all the Apple products I had, an iMac, Macbook Pro, iPad, and Apple watch. I’m very happy with them….Oh yes, I almost forgot, an Apple TV too!

    Next, get them used to repeating themselves; it may because you can’t hear well. or there is a lot of noise in your area, or it’s just a bad connection.

    No matter how slowly they read you the code, invert some of the numbers. Add the letter O when if they say Oh. I even included an ampersand every time he said ‘and’. However, the tone is always that you are sorry and really appreciate his help. Explain you’re just going to take it to the Apple store. They are always so helpful and you’re sorry this is so difficult.

    Tell them you haven’t noticed any issues, but you really appreciate their help and you’re sorry this is so confusing.

    Before you drive them nuts, ask to speak to a manager. Rinse and repeat.

    Kept these liars on the phone for a full 18 minutes today.

  • Seems I’ve been hit with these scammers, after checking for shady IP’s I found this under LocalHost

    # localhost name resolution is handled within DNS itself.
    # localhost
    # ::1 localhost

    What kind of action do I need to take?

    • The IPs you’ve found in the Localhost file are not problematic – they are supposed to be in the file ad you do not need to take any action towards them. Skip this step and proceed with the rest of the guide.

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