Important Documents IRS Email SPAM

Also Known As: Important Documents IRS spam
Damage level: Severe

What is Important Documents IRS?

"Important Documents IRS" is another spam email campaign used to distribute the TrickBot trojan. It shares many similarities with Payslip, You Have A Santander Secure Email, and a number of other campaigns.

"Important Documents IRS" emails contain a long message comprising false information regarding a supposed 'transaction' and encouraging users to immediately open an attached MS Office (Word) document. Once opened, however, this file immediately downloads and installs the TrickBot trojan.

Important Documents IRS malware

The message essentially states that the IRS Audit Office has finished investigating a case and determined that "return transfer in automatic mode" is impossible. Therefore, users are encouraged to complete and sign the attached documents. This is a scam - cyber criminals send these false messages to trick users into opening malicious attachments.

Research shows that cyber criminals continually register email addresses and web domains including the names of government departments and legitimate companies. These emails and URLs are used within spam campaigns (it is much easier to trick unsuspecting user into following instructions received from familiar email addresses).

As mentioned, "Important Documents IRS" is used to promote TrickBot, a high risk trojan that records sensitive information. TrickBot hijacks web browsers and records logins/passwords. Therefore, cyber criminals might gain access to victims' private accounts (bank, PayPal, social networks, etc.), which can lead to significant financial loss and identity theft.

TrickBot is also very good at removing its tracks and it is virtually impossible to manually detect this malware. Fortunately, many reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suites are capable of detecting and removing this trojan. If you have already opened "Important Documents IRS" attachments, immediately perform a full system scan and eliminate all threats.

Threat Summary:
Name Important Documents IRS spam
Threat Type Trojan, Password stealing virus, Banking malware, Spyware
Symptoms Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate victim's computer and remain silent thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software cracks.
Damage Stolen banking information, passwords, identity theft, victim's computer added to a botnet.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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There are a number of trojan-type viruses similar to TrickBot. The list of examples includes (but it is not limited to) Pony, Adwind, and FormBook. Most are also distributed using spam emails.

Furthermore, their behavior is also very similar - as with TrickBot, these viruses also record sensitive information. Some trojans are also known to spread other viruses (in most cases, ransomware), thus posing a direct threat to user's privacy and Internet browsing safety.

How did Important Documents IRS infect my computer?

"Important Documents IRS" is used to proliferate malicious MS Word attachments. After opening this file, users are asked to enable macro commands, otherwise the content will not be displayed. Once macros are enabled, however, the attachment immediately executes commands that stealthily download and install the TrickBot trojan.

Note, however, that this will only work if the attachment is opened using the MS Word program. If the file is opened using other apps capable of reading this format, the malware will not be downloaded. Cyber criminals only target users who run the Windows Operating System. Users of other platforms (MacOS, Linux, etc.) are safe.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Lack of knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. The key to safety is caution. Therefore, pay close attention when browsing the Internet. Carefully analyze each received email attachment. If the file seems irrelevant or has been received from a suspicious/unrecognizable email address, never open it.

These emails should be deleted immediately without reading. Be aware that some trojans are distributed using fake update tools and the "bundling" method (stealth installation of third party applications together with regular software/apps). Therefore, keep installed applications up-to-date.

This should be achieved only through implemented functions or tools provided by the official developer. "Bundled" apps are typically hidden within "Custom/Advanced" settings (or other sections) of the download/installation processes. Therefore, carefully analyze each step of these procedures and opt-out of all additionally-included programs.

You are also advised to avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since developers monetize them by promoting PUPs. Download apps from official sources only, using direct download links. Having a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and running is also paramount.

In addition, more recent versions (2010 and above) of MS Office open newly-downloaded documents in "Protected View" mode. In doing so, MS Office prevents malware download/installation.

Using older versions is risky and not recommended. If you have already opened a "Important Documents IRS" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Important Documents IRS" email letter:

Subject: Important Documents
Transaction error correction,
IRS Audit Office completed investigation on case #827112IRS and determined that the return of the erroneously transfer in automatic mode is impossible In this regard, we require you to check, complete and sign attached documents.
Please send completed and signed documents to +1 877 364-6896.
Failure to Comply Law and Regulations IRS is suppressed in accordance with publication: How Criminal Investigations Are Initiated.
Should you need additional information, please call IRS at +1 877 364-6895.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Confidentiality Notice: The information contained in this message may be confidential and legally privileged. It is intended only for use of the individual named. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that the disclosure, copying, distribution, or taking of any action in regards to the contents of this fax – except its direct delivery to the intended recipient – is strictly prohibited. If you have received this fax in error, please notify the sender immediately and destroy this cover sheet along with its contents, and delete from your system, if applicable.

Malicious attachment distributed via "Important Documents IRS" spam campaign:

Malicious attachment distributed through Important Documents IRS spam campaign

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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