Do not fall for the AOL winner email scam

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is "AOL Winner Email Scam"?

This email scam delivers messages that appear to be emails from AOL, an online service provider company. The scammers behind the scheme attempt to trick unsuspecting recipients into providing various information. Typically, scammers misuse provided details to generate revenue in various ways.

Trusting these emails exposes recipients to risk of a number of problems. Therefore, ignore these emails.

AOL Winner Email Scam spam campaign

The email scam states that the recipient's email address was selected as a winner of $3,000,000.000. To claim the 'prize', the recipient must provide details such as name, surname, address, country, occupation, telephone number, age and gender by sending them to caldwellnorman@mail.com or calling the +905389132417 number.

In fact, whoever contacts these scammers are asked to provide further, sensitive information such as credit card details, credentials of personal accounts or other confidential details. This is not the only scam that is disguised as an email from a legitimate company (in this case, AOL).

Neither AOL nor any other company has anything to do with this scam, or similar scams of this type. Therefore, do not trust the emails and, more importantly, do not provide any information to the scammers behind them.

Threat Summary:
Name AOL Winner Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Scammers behind this email claim that recipients have won $3,000,000.000
Disguise This email is disguised as a letter from AOL.
Scammer Phone Number +905389132417
Scammer Email Address caldwellnorman@mail.com
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)

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Some examples of other other scams include "IFC Global Development Funding Program Email Scam", "TOYOTA LOTTERY ORGANIZATION" and "Google Winner". In most cases, scammers send these emails to extort various personal information that they can misuse to generate revenue.

Recipients who fall for such scams often become victims of identity theft, experience problems relating to privacy, browsing safety, suffer monetary loss, and so on. Cyber criminals also use spam campaigns/emails to proliferate malicious programs.

They send emails that contain a malicious attachment or a website link that downloads a malicious file - they hope that someone will open the file, which then infects the system. Some examples of malware proliferated via email include LokiBot, TrickBot, Emotet, AZORult and Adwind.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Typically, operating systems become infected through spam campaigns/emails when recipients open a malicious file that was attached to them, or they open a file that was downloaded via an included website link.

Examples of files that cyber criminals attach to their emails include PDF, Microsoft Office documents, executable files (.exe), JavaScript files, and archives such as ZIP, RAR. For example, when a recipient opens a malicious MS Office document with MS Office 2010 or a newer version, the document asks permission to enable editing (macros commands).

If allowed, it installs some malicious software. Older MS Office versions install malware through malicious documents automatically, since they do not include Protected View mode (which asks permission first). In any case, malicious attachments/files can infect computers only if users open (execute) them.

How to avoid installation of malware

Irrelevant emails that are received from suspicious, unknown addresses and contain website links and/or attachments should not be trusted. Opening the contents of these emails causes installation of malicious software. Files and programs should be downloaded only from official websites and via direct links.

Unofficial websites, third party downloaders (and installers), Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule), and other channels, sources of this kind should not be trusted or used. Cyber criminals often use them to host malware (malicious files). Update installed software via implemented functions/tools designed by official developers.

If software needs activation, use formal methods. It is illegal to activate licensed programs with 'cracking' (unofficial activation) tools, which are often designed to install malware. Scan the operating system for threats with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software regularly and keep this software 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 "AOL Winner Email Scam" email message:

Hello ******,

Attention: AOL Winner,

We are pleased to inform you that your electronic Email address has won the sum of  Three Million US Dollars ($3,000,000.00)USD from America online lottery award ©2020. AOL is also using this opportunity to congratulate you and say thank you for using the internet daily. However, no tickets were sold but all email addresses were assigned to different ticket numbers for representation and privacy.

You are required to provide the following and submit in this firm via the email address below for guide line and proper clarification.

Beneficiary's Surname:..........
Beneficiary's First Name:......
Beneficiary's Address:........
Beneficiary's Country...........
Beneficiary's Occupation ........
Beneficiary's Phone:................
Beneficiary's Age: ..............
Beneficiary's Gender: ............
Your Winning Verification Number: AOL009US/AWP-LAX1182/019

AOL Admin / email to: caldwellnorman@mail.com

NOTE : Keep your winning information very confidential until you have received your prize.

#770 Broadway New York,
NY 10003 USA,

CEO: Tim Armstrong

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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is 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 1Download 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 "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 the 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 the 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.

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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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