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The Internet threat alert status is currently normal. At present, no major epidemics or other serious incidents have been recorded by Kaspersky Lab’s monitoring service. Internet threat level: 1
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16 Apr Would you like some Zeus with your coffee? Maria Vergelis

09 Apr The omnipresent dad Maria Rubinstein

05 Mar Mystery shopper: Beware of Frauds Tatiana Kulikova

05 Mar A ‘gift’ for Apple’s valued customers Tatyana Shcherbakova

26 Feb The ‘Nigerian’ vow: our promises – your money Tatiana Kulikova

20 Feb Your Facebook account has won a prize! Maria Rubinstein

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Spam Test|Would you like some Zeus with your coffee?

Maria Vergelis
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted April 16, 15:47  GMT
Tags: Spam Letters, ZeuS
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Cybercriminals often like to use a bogus letter to trick people into opening malicious attachments. There are two tricks that make this work: a message from a familiar name (a bank, social network, service provider or other organization that might interest the recipient) and an intriguing or alarming subject. An attack based on fake messages supposedly from coffee chain Starbucks combined the two.

Spam Test|The omnipresent dad

Maria Rubinstein
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted April 09, 09:00  GMT
Tags: Spam Letters, Spammer techniques
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Many websites show different text depending on where the user lives. For instance, home pages of some portals show you the news and weather of your region by default, because you are most likely to be interested in this kind of information first of all.

Of course, spammers and fraudsters also make use of this approach.

The following letter, written in Spanish, advertises an easy way to earn money online:

The attached link directs users to times-financials.com, registered in October 2013, according to the information on whois:

“Moscow City dad makes $14,000 per month” – says the title.

From Moscow? Hmmm.

Incidents|Mystery shopper: Beware of Frauds

Tatiana Kulikova
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 05, 13:57  GMT
Tags: Spam Letters, Fraud
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Offers to work as a mystery shopper are a common trick used by fraudsters. They give you a chance to work in your free time, and if you agree, they send you a fake check with a huge sum of money, which is supposed to compensate the costs of goods and research. Any remaining money left over after the work is returned to the fraudsters. When the bank annuls the check as a fake, the secret shopper is left out of pocket.

But as users become more aware of online dangers, scammers have had to resort  to various types of tricks to achieve their goals, such as disguising scammer mailings as a mailing from a large company specializing in working with secret shoppers. The message, sent on behalf of Mystery Shopper Inc., prompted the user to look at a description of the vacancy, but the attached link led to another resource that also specializes in this type of market research.

The real address of the scammer’s page was revealed after clicking the attached link. Obviously, it had nothing to do with Mystery Shopper Inc. official resources.

 

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In January we detected a phishing mailing that was sent on behalf of Apple. The messages contained an offer to purchase a card giving a discount of 150 euros in any European AppStore for only 9 euros. The senders also underlined that only valued customers were eligible to receive the card.

To place an order for the card, Apple fans had to open an attached HTML page and fill in all the fields, such as information about the user’s bank card, including the three-digit security code stated on the reverse of the card.

In exchange, the scammers promised to send a discount card via email within 24 hours. But evidently it was just another scam to trick users. The fraudsters also used the Apple logo and automated subscriptions at the end of the message to confuse victims.

 

The scammers didn’t just target logins and passwords for personal accounts but also users’ banking information, and in order to achieve their goal they are willing to promise anything. Inexperienced users may find it difficult to see through the fraud, but requests for confidential bank information or data that gives access to personal accounts are a clear sign of a phishing scam.   

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The tales spun by Nigerian scammers often amaze with their ability to exploit and adapt the same type of scam to a whole variety of situations. Most of these situations are tragic, either related to someone’s death or political turmoil. That’s why an attempt to give away one’s money (or huge part of it) as a vow to God may well come as a complete surprise.

The vow was given by an engineer who had decided to give away tens of thousands of dollars to a randomly chosen user from the Internet. According to his story, he signed a very lucrative contract in Australia, but after finishing his part of the contract, his work wasn’t paid. The desperate engineer swore to God to give away $250,000 to some random person if he received his money. Of course, the story had a happy ending and recently, the Australian government agreed to pay up. And now the happy engineer has to fulfill his vow and is ready to give $250,000 to the lucky recipient.

 

Although Google confirms the existence of Mr. Brady’s company, the promise of a large sum of money shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Suspicions should immediately be raised by the fact that a private businessman is writing from an address with the domain fbi.gov.

We hope that nobody ends up responding and paying for Mr. Brady’s holy vow. After all, a happy end for the scammers often spells tragedy for the victims.

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There are plenty of fraudulent messages with the content along the lines of “your email address won a million dollars in a lottery, please contact us to claim your prize”. Internet scammers use this trick to trick users into giving away money: before they can claim their alleged prize the “lucky winners” have to pay tax or a bank charge for a money transfer, etc.

We have now come across an interesting variation of this trick, which involves a Facebook account instead of an email address.

Now, why does Eduardo Saverin (a real person and one of the founders of Facebook) need to know my Facebook username if my account has already won a prize? But an unsuspecting user, blinded by the promise of a huge prize, may not think about that – and that’s what the scammers are counting on.

I’m sure the readers of this blog wouldn’t fall for something like a “Facebook prize”, but our relatives and friends have accounts too, and they may not be so experienced in the ways of online fraud. That’s why they should be warned that such letters are nothing but a scam.

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Incidents|Virtual bitcoins vs hard cash

Tatiana Kulikova
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted February 20, 12:45  GMT
Tags: Spam Letters, Tematic Spam, Bitcoin
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The festive season with its gifts, decorations and costumes can easily put a dent in your finances. No wonder then that after the holidays spam started appearing with suggestions on how to make some money. And increasingly spammers are using bitcoins – a cryptocurrency – as the bait. For instance, bitcoins can be earned in return for access to the computing power of a device. There are plenty of stories about millionaires who have made a fortune with the help of this currency, and spammers have been quick to exploit its current popularity.

Recently, bitcoin’s exchange rate has been steadily increasing (at the time of writing 1 bitcoin is worth $623), making it a rather attractive proposition.

Spammers are exploiting the popularity of the currency in different ways. One of the mailings offered to share the secret of a millionaire who made his fortune with bitcoins. The message stated that with the help of this secret, the recipient could make $1500 per day without even buying any bitcoins.

 

The link in the message led to a web page that contained promises of great wealth. In order to receive the software required for this type of income, the user had to enter his/her e-mail address.

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2014 sees two huge sporting events taking place: the football World Cup in Brazil and the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. In November we mentioned a mailing exploiting the World Cup – the fraudsters disguising their scam as a lottery. In January the number of these kinds of mailings increased. The stories used in the messages were identical: the user was informed that he/she had been chosen from among millions of other users as the winner of a lottery with a huge prize. In order to claim the money, the user had to contact the organizers using the addresses and phone numbers provided.

The body of the message was either empty or contained just one phrase: “See the attachment for information” or “Open the attachment”. The content of the attached file changed from message to message, as did the file format – JPEG, PDF or DOC. The file contained information about the alleged prize and also had references to FIFA and the World Cup. The scammers even went to the trouble of including official logos and pictures from the ceremony when Brazil was awarded the World Cup.

 

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The XXII Winter Olympic Games officially get under way on 7 February. Of course, this major sporting event has not gone unnoticed by the spammers. The “Nigerian” scammers couldn’t resist either: at the end of January we received an interesting mailing from someone looking for a trustworthy person in Russia who they could transfer 850,000 euros to. To explain such an unusual request, the author didn’t use the standard “Nigerian” tales, but instead cited a trip to the Olympic Games - the money was needed for a group of six people who supposedly intended to stay in Sochi. For further information, the recipient of this generous offer had to contact the sender.

 

A seemingly harmless request for help in organizing a trip turns out to be a trap, with the usual large sum of money as the bait. A reference to a real event is used to persuade the recipient that the request is genuine. But the result is always the same – the spammer asks the recipient to transfer a certain amount of money, for instance, to cover the costs of the transfer, and after that the fraudster vanishes without a trace.

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Letters about lottery wins are a standard trick used by ”Nigerian” scammers. Very often, the author of such letters will explain that he is the happy winner of a multi-million lottery win, and he doesn’t know how to spend the unexpected windfall, and has decided to turn to philanthropy.