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Do you miss Windows Movie Maker? Don’t get caught up in this scam

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Scammers have been taking advantage of the continuing demand for Microsoft’s classic editing software, Windows Movie Maker, by releasing a version that tries to scam users to pay for core features. It has proven to be an effective tactic, too, reflected in the fact that the domain name hosting the scam version of the software is now being listed at the top of Google results when searching for the application.

Microsoft announced the end of support for several of its Windows Essentials 2012 applications at the end of 2016, but when it did so in early 2017, that didn’t stop people from wanting to use them. One of those pieces of software was Windows Movie Maker, a bare-bones but effective video editing tool. Although it was replaced by Windows Story Remix, demand is still high for Movie Maker and that has led a number of scammers to make their move.

The scam, in this case, stems from a website that appears at the top of Google results when searching for the software. We won’t link or name it here, but suffice it to say that on first glance, it looks somewhat legitimate. Indeed the application that you can download if you visit the site is a functioning version of Movie Maker. Where it differs though, as WeLiveSecurity explains, is that attempting certain functions prompts the software to block them, and indicate that you need to pay to unlock all features.

If the user attempts to pay for them, they’ll be directed back to the scam site, where a payment of $30 (a 25-percent discount!) is requested. The site even offers “free technical support and software upgrades,” though that seems unlikely.

Some security software is picking up on this scam, designating it as malware Win32/Hoax.MovieMaker, and earlier this month it was even cropping up as one of the most commonly detected malware items in the world. That suggests that this scam may be quite widespread, despite the legacy nature of the software.

If you want to avoid this scam, letting Windows Movie Maker rest as a defunct piece of software would be your best bet. There are plenty of alternatives, such as Microsoft’s own recently released replacement, Windows Story Remix. At the very least though, be wary of sites offering paid for versions of previously free software, and make sure you’re running one of the best antivirus solutions.

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Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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