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How to avoid being scammed by the RedCross email scam

Also Known As: Red Cross spam
Damage level: Medium

What is "RedCross Email Scam"?

There are many emails scams on the internet. Scammers send the messages to deceive unsuspecting recipients into providing personal information, transferring money, etc.

In this particular case, they attempt to take advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and seek to trick people into sending Bitcoins by claiming that this will support World Health Organization (WHO) efforts to prevent and respond to the pandemic.

Do not trust this or other similar scams. More importantly, do not transfer any money to the provided Bitcoin wallet addresses, or by other means.

RedCross email spam campaign

This email scam states that the International Committee (ICRC) of the Red Cross has established a system to control and fight the coronavirus and provide humanitarian support for COVID-19 victims across the Europe.

To support aid workers, medical professionals, and help ICRC to provide more test kits and ventilators, recipients are asked to donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund. It is mentioned that the organization seeks to collect $675 million dollars for critical response efforts in countries that need the help most.

Note that this scam is based on the fact that several international Red Cross offices have been soliciting for Bitcoin donations, however, neither the International Committee of the Red Cross nor World Health Organisation has anything to do with this scam. Therefore, you should ignore this scam email.

Threat Summary:
Name RedCross Email Scam.
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals affected by COVID-19.
Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address 176irSfVQsVMZWaM9Bab7TYE3WsdzmW1m2
Disguise This email is disguised as a message from the coordinator of the ICRC Solidarity Response Fund.
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 more examples of similar email scams are "COVID-19 Cases Surpassed 300,000 Email Scam", "Infect Your Family With CoronaVirus Email Scam" and "Microsoft Email Scam". 

Typically, scammers behind them generate revenue by deceiving recipients into sending money (usually, cryptocurrency) or providing sensitive information (such as credit card details), however, these emails can be used to spread scams and distribute malware.

The criminals send emails that contain malicious attachments or links designed to open web pages containing malicious files. They send the emails to proliferate ransomware, Trojans, and other malware. For example, malicious software including Emotet, TrickBot, LokiBot, Formbook, etc.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Computers become infected through emails only if recipients open the attached malicious file, or a file of this type that was downloaded through a provided website link. In most cases cyber criminals attach Microsoft Office documents, PDF documents, executable files (e.g., .exe), JavaScript files or archive files such as ZIP, RAR.

Their main goal is to trick recipients into executing the malicious file. For example, when recipients open a malicious MS Office document, they are asked to enable editing/content (enable macros commands). If allowed, the document installs malware. Note that this applies only to documents that are opened with MS Office 2010 or later.

Older versions do not include "Protected View" mode and infect computers without asking permission to enable macro commands. In summary, computers are safe as long as malicious files sent via these rogue emails remain unopened.

How to avoid installation of malware

Software should be downloaded only from official, trustworthy websites and via direct links. Channels such as third party downloaders and installers, unofficial websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule, etc.), freeware download and free file hosting pages should not be used to download or install software.

Attachments and links in irrelevant emails that are sent from unknown, suspicious addresses should not be opened. You are advised against opening any email contents if there is any reason to doubt whether it is safe to do so. Installed software must be updated and activated with tools that are designed by official software developers.

Other tools can be used to distribute malware. Note that it is illegal to use 'cracking' tools (unofficial activators) to activate any licensed software (bypass paid activation).

Finally, regularly scan computers with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and ensure that this software is kept up to date. Also, software of this type should be 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 "RedCross Email Scam" email message:

Subject: The Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund

Dear Prospective Donor,

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in partnership with the World health Organisation (WHO) and The center for disease control and prevention (CDC) are working endlessly to control the outbreak of a 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in wuhan city, Hubei province, that began in December 2019.
-

The International Red Cross has established an incident management system to co-ordinate a domestic and international public health response to checkmate this virus. Thus, The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund is a secure way for individuals, philanthropies and businesses to contribute to the ICRC-led effort to respond to the pandemic.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is providing humanitarian support for COVID-19 victims across Europe
-

In help to support our Aid workers, medical professionals and provide more COVID-19 Test Kits and Ventilators for the COVID-19 victims in United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Australia, some other part of Europe, Japan and some other part of Asia and Africa, The Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund is seeking your help to raise funds.

The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan outlines a funding need of at least US$675 million for critical response efforts in countries most in need of help through April 2020. As this outbreak evolves, funding needs are likely to increase. To donate to the COVID-19 Response Fund through the secure digital currency (Bitcoin Wallet below).

Funding of the above project is quite a huge costs and we plead for your good will donation, Any amount donated will go a long way to save lives.

You can scan The Internation Red Cross Bitcoin QR Code here to make donations


N.B If bar code does not display kindly click on show image to display bar code
Or Copy and paste our Bitcoin address here to make donations : 176irSfVQsVMZWaM9Bab7TYE3WsdzmW1m2

Thanks you once again for your Goodwill contribution in standing against this virus.

Please help us share this message to reach many as possible to help Support for all the urgent humanitarian needs of the International Red Cross.
For more enquiries kindly email us at helpfunding@redcross-international.org


Regards

Paul Handerson
Co-ordinator ICRC Solidarity Response Fund
International Committee of the Red Cross
19 Avenue de la paix
1202 Geneva
Switzerland
coordinator@redcross-international.org

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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.

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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