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updated 9/26/2011 11:49:23 AM ET 2011-09-26T15:49:23

What initially looks like an amazing deal on cheap anti-virus software could actually be an easy steal for scammers selling bogus computer cleanup products.

Fake online anti-virus stores have been establishing a real presence on the Web, and to help make their phony software solutions appear real, researchers at the security firm Zscaler found that they've begun spoofing the appearance of well-known, trusted sites such as Groupon.

These fake online stores, Zscaler's Julien Sobrier wrote, "look exactly like Groupon in an effort to be more familiar to the users and increase the likelihood of being trusted."

One particular culprit is axissoftware.com, whose Web page offers blowout deals on everything from Adobe Acrobat and Flash to Norton and McAfee anti-virus products. Users who want to pounce on what they believe is a deal before time runs out are redirected to phony payment pages where they're asked to enter their Visa or MasterCard information.

Scams like this are especially nasty because not only do they offer a huge, (albeit fake) discount on a service consumers want and need, but they are carefully crafted to assuage any doubts that what the customer is buying could in any way be a rip-off.

Steer clear of scams like this by only purchasing anti-virus software from reputable websites. Also, before entering any payment information into your computer, make sure the site is encrypted with HTTPS; some browsers will highlight those letters in green in the URL bar. If your browser doesn't, the site is potentially unsafe.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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