Prevent being scammed by the WannaCry hacker group email scam

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is "WannaCry hacker group Email Scam"?

As its name suggests, "WannaCry hacker group Email Scam" is an email scam. It uses a form of blackmail known as "sextortion" in which it extorts money from people by threatening to reveal evidence of sexual activity. In this particular case, it claims that the evidence was obtained through the user's webcam.

It states that this footage will be distributed unless funds are transferred to an account provided within a specific time frame. It should be stressed that these claims are false and cyber criminals behind this scam do not have any compromising material. Ignore all emails of this type.

WannaCry hacker group email scam spam campaign

The email entitled "Keep your secrets safe!" declares that it is from a representative of the WannaCry hacker group, and that they have hacked the recipient's OS (operating system) and email account. They supposedly have done so by hacking one of the email service provider's servers and consequently gained access to the user's account.

Through it, they allege to have infected the victim's OS. In doing so, they have gathered details of all of the user's contacts (e.g. family, relatives, friends, colleagues, etc.) and threaten to send explicit evidence of the recipient's sexual activity to them.

The compromising material is supposedly footage recorded by the device's webcam when the user was apparently visiting adult websites (i.e., when pornographic content was viewed). They further proclaim that unless $550 worth in Bitcoin cryptocurrency is transferred to them within 60 hours, they will send the video evidence to all of the recipient's email and messenger contacts.

If payment is made, the alleged footage will be destroyed. Remember that these threats are false and the scammers behind this email have not obtained any compromising content. Additionally, none of the infections they mention are present on the victim's device. Do not trust these emails and simply ignore them.

Threat Summary:
Name "WannaCry hacker group" email spam campaign
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Criminals claim that they have infected the recipient's computer with a remote access tool (RAT) and stolen all of the victim's contacts. Additionally, they claim to have recorded the user watching adult content and "pleasuring himself". To prevent criminals from sending the recording to the aforementioned contacts, each recipient is encouraged to pay $550 using the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
Ransom Size $550
Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address 18JbdkskQSNFP9DrcCp9txLMFJCyPwEPXg (Bitcoin), 12byutpYf1xpH8fR4qBj4833x2t94rSr8X (Bitcoin)
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
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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These emails are distributed by the thousand and are often spread through massive scale spam campaigns. Extortion and ransom demands are not the only types online. The context varies from blackmail attempts, various "important" alerts, to "prize" announcement and hundreds of others.

Some scams similar to the "WannaCry hacker group email scam" include "This is important information for you", "The last time you visited a Porn website", "Looked at you for several months" and "So I'm the hacker who broke your email".

Usually, sextortion scams claim to have obtained compromising and humiliating videos or screenshots/photos of the victim, which will be released unless ransoms are paid. They typically ask for payment in a currency that is hard to trace. For example, cryptocurrency, prepaid vouchers, and similar.

Email scam objectives also differ but include the proliferation of malicious content, through various email attachments. Examples of malware (malicious software) furthered through such scams include TrickBotFormBookPony, and LokiBot.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Email spam campaigns can cause system infections only through file attachments or website links, which lead to them. The attachments can be in a wide variety of formats.

E.g. archive files (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executable files (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office or PDF documents, JavaScript and so on. These attached files must first be opened to infect systems. For example, MS office documents ask users to enable macro commands (to enable editing). If allowed, the file can download/install malware.

How to avoid installation of malware

Never open/download/install attached files or follow web links in emails, sent from unknown and dubious addresses. Do not open untrustworthy and suspicious emails. Typically, these claim to be urgent or important, whether by making criminal threats or by posing as official sources.

Regardless of appearance, unknown/irrelevant emails should not be trusted. Use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. These versions have "Protected View" mode that prevent infectious documents from downloading/installing malicious software. To ensure device integrity and user safety, treat all received emails and the attachments/links with caution.

To prevent downloading malicious content, use official and verified download sources. Do not use peer-to-peer sharing networks or other third party downloaders. Do not use software 'cracking' tools, since they are illegal and can often lead to installation of malware. Be attentive when installing and updating software.

Use legitimate, official antivirus and/or anti-spyware programs for additional system protection. This software should be used to perform regular scans and kept up-to-date. If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "WannaCry hacker group email scam" email message:

Subject: Keep your secrets safe!


I am a representative of the WannaCry hacker group.
In the period from 24/06/2019 to 11/09/2019 we got access to your account ******** by hacking one of the ******* mail servers.

You already changed the password?
Sumptuously! But my program fixes this every time. And every time I know your new password!

Using access to your account, it turned out to be easy to infect the OS of your device.

At the moment, all your contacts are known to us. We also have access to your messengers and to your correspondence.
All this information is already stored with us.

We are also aware of your intimate adventures on the Internet.
We know that you adore adult sites and we know about your sexual addictions.
You have a very interesting and special taste (you understand what I mean).

While browsing these sites, your device's camera automatically turns on.
Video-record you and what you watch is being save.
After that, the video clip is automatically saved on our server.

At the moment, several analogy video records have been collected.
From the moment you read this letter, after 60 hours, all your contacts on this email box and in your instant messengers will receive these clips and files with your correspondence.

If you do not want this, transfer 550$ to our Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet: 18JbdkskQSNFP9DrcCp9txLMFJCyPwEPXg, 12byutpYf1xpH8fR4qBj4833x2t94rSr8X
I guarantee that we will then destroy all your secrets!

As soon as the money is in our account - your data will be immediately destroyed!
If no money arrives, files with video and correspondence will be sent to all your contacts.

You decide... Pay or live in hell out of shame...

We believe that this whole story will teach you how to use gadgets properly!
Everyone loves adult sites, you're just out of luck.
For the future - just cover a sticker your device's camera when you visit adult sites!

Take care of yourself!

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer 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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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - it is usually best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically.

To remove this malware we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example, using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1 Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup.

Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button.

In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":


manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

extract autoruns.zip and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck the "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename of the malware, be sure to remove it.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs.

These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections, we recommend scanning it with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

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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.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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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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