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Avoid being scammed by "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!"

Also Known As: Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! phishing scam
Damage level: Medium

What is "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!"?

"Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" is a scam run on deceptive websites. This scheme is designed to trick users into believing that they have won a prize. To receive it, however, they need to provide personal information and pay certain fees. This scam is furthered through the use of visitors' Internet Service Providers (ISPs), which aids the appearance of legitimacy.

Furthermore, "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" is typically displayed in the language associated with visitors' geolocations. This scam has been observed targeting French (Bouygues Telecom ISP), Chilean (VTR ISP), Hong Kong (Netvigator ISP), Italian (Fastweb ISP), South African (Telkom ISP) and a number of other regions/ISPs.

Most users enter deceptive/scam sites unintentionally, since they are redirected by intrusive advertisements or Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs) already infiltrated into their devices.

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! scam (initial pop-up)

Visitors to the website promoting the "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" scam first see a pop-up window. The phrasing can differ in some variants of this scheme, but in essence it congratulates users of a specific Internet Service Provider to have been chosen as potential prize winners.

In most versions of the scam, the possible prizes are Samsung Galaxy S10 or Apple iPhone X smartphones. The background page thanks visitors for using the ISP and invites them to take a quick survey. If users answer the multi-choice survey, they can win the aforementioned prizes.

There is also a countdown presented, which shows how much time remains to win the fake gifts. After the survey is completed, another web page is displayed that congratulates users for winning the prize. It mentions that the Apple iPhone X is already out of stock, however, they have won the Samsung device.

"Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" then displays another pop-up stating that the prize has been reserved by the ISP and lists the terms and conditions of this giveaway. The "terms and conditions" are instructions. Firstly, users are to provide their shipping and contact details in the following web page.

Secondly, they must pay the shipping fee, which in most versions is 1 USD or equivalent. The text presented in this window ends with a statement that after the first steps are made - the prize will be shipped within two business days. Pressing any of the consent options (e.g. "OK" button) redirects users to another site.

In this page, users are to enter their personal details and pay the shipping cost. Note that trusting "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" or similar scams will not lead to any prizes. You will experience financial loss and, possibly, privacy issues.

Redirects to deceptive/scam web pages are usually generated by intrusive ads or PUAs. Unwanted applications can force-open a wide variety of scam, rogue, compromised and even malicious sites, however, they can also possess other capabilities.

PUAs can deliver intrusive advertisements (pop-ups, banners, surveys, coupons, etc.), which significantly diminish the browsing experience, cause redirects to harmful pages and stealthily download/install unwanted content. Other PUA types can modify browsers, restrict/deny access to settings and promote fake search engines.

Most unwanted apps, regardless of other specifications, can track data. They record browsing activity (browsing and search engine histories) and personal information derived from it (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). This private data can then be shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) seeking to profit through misusing it.

In summary, while typically legitimate in appearance, PUAs can cause various system infiltration and infections, lead to serious privacy issues, financial loss and even identity theft. To ensure device/user safety, remove all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins immediately upon detection.

Threat Summary:
Name Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! phishing scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Scam claims visitors have won a prize.
Related Domains establishteam.club, meaningfullead.club, easilyeveryday.com, guesstimateds.com, goodfortuneall.com, thegreatermeaning.com, getexpectations.com, luckyconfident.com, surveysettlement.com
Serving IP Address 13.249.134.127 (both establishteam.club and meaningfullead.club)
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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"PRIZE EMAIL", "SPECIAL AWARD FROM OUR SPONSORS", and "International promotion of postal services" are some examples of other scams. Social engineering and scare tactics are commonly used to further these schemes.

Deceptive websites often claim that visitors have won "unbelievable prizes", offer "amazing" deals, claim that the device is infected and/or a piece of essential software is outdated/missing, etc. The purpose is to encourage users into performing variopus actions, with the underlying goal to generate revenue at their expense.

Scams can be designed to trick users into making monetary transactions (e.g. payment for "services rendered", various fees, etc.), revealing personal information, downloading/installing/purchasing untrustworthy or malicious content, and so on.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs can be downloaded/installed together with other programs. "Bundling" is the term used to describe this deceptive marketing technique of packing regular content with unwanted or malicious software. Rushing download/install processes (e.g. skipping steps and sections, etc.) endangers devices with potential infiltration and infections.

Select applications of this type have "official" download web pages. When clicked, intrusive advertisements can execute scripts to download/install PUAs without users' permission.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Research all products (apps, browser extensions/plug-ins, tools, etc.) prior to downloading/installing them. Use only official and verified download channels. Untrustworthy sources such as Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, free file-hosting websites and other third party downloaders can offer deceptive and/or bundled software for download.

When downloading/installing, you are advised to read the terms, explore all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out of additional content. Intrusive ads tend to seem normal and innocuous, however, they can redirect to rogue pages (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, etc.).

If you encounter these ads/redirects, inspect the system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" initial pop-up window:

Tuesday January 7, 2020

Dear Netvigator user,

Congratulations! You are one of the 100 users that we selected to receive the chance to win an Samsung Galaxy S10 or Apple iPhone X.

Screenshot of the background page:

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! background page

Text presented in this page:

Netvigator customer reward program
Congratulations!
7 January 2020
We wish to thank you for the long use of a services from Netvigator!

Every Tuesday we randomly select several users to take a short survey. In return, we offer them the chance to receive a valuable gift from our sponsors. This survey allows us to better understand users and make our products better. It will not take more than 30 seconds of your time.

You can win the new Samsung Galaxy S10 or Apple iPhone X. All you need to do to receive a gift is to answer the following 8 questions.

Remember: 100 randomly selected users have received this invitation. The number of gifts is limited.
You have 3 minutes and 49 seconds to answer the following questions before we give your gift to another happy user! Good luck!

Screenshot of page displayed after answering all questions:

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! second page

Text presented in this page:

Congratulations!100%
You answered all (8/8) questions
No repeat queries were submitted from your IP address.
Today you can claim 1 gift.
Receive your gift now:

Samsung Galaxy S10
Your price: $1 (DHL shipping cost)
Remaining quantity: 3 units
Take it

iPhone X
Your price: $1 (DHL shipping cost)
Remaining quantity: 0 units

Screenshot of the pop-up window displayed after choosing the reward:

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! second page pop-up

Text presented in this pop-up:

Netvigator customer reward program
Your Samsung Galaxy S10 has been reserved by Netvigator!

Terms and conditions:
1. On the next page fill in the shipping and the contact details;
2. Pay only $1 for the delivery of your gift;
3. Your Samsung Galaxy S10 will be shipped within two business days with DHL.

Screenshot of website for providing shipping details and paying for "shipping fees":

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! redirect to site for paying the fake shipping fees

Appearance of "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" scam targeting users of Chilean Internet Service Provider VTR (GIF):

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! Chile VTR

Appearance of "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" scam targeting users of French Internet Service Provider Bouygues Telecom (GIF):

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! France Bouygues Telecom

Appearance of "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" scam targeting users of Hong Kong Internet Service Provider Netvigator (GIF):

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! Hong Kong Netvigator

Appearance of "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" scam targeting users of Italian Internet Service Provider Fastweb (GIF):

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! Italy Fastweb

Appearance of "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" scam targeting users of South African Internet Service Provider Telkom (GIF):

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! South Africa Telkom

Other examples of "Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations!" pop-up scam:

Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 1) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 2) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 3) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 4) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 5) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 6) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 7) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 8) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 9) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 10) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 11) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 12) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 13) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 14) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 15) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 16) Dear [ISP name] user, Congratulations! pop-up scam 2020-05-28 (sample 17)

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Quick menu:

How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

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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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