Do not trust the 2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD email scam

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Medium

"2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD" removal guide


Typically, scammers behind phishing emails seek to trick recipients into providing them various personal information, for example, passwords (login credentials), credit card details and/or transferring them a certain amount of money. Scammers send this particular email with a purpose to deceive recipients into believing that their email was selected as a winner of some 2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD lottery.

2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD email spam campaign

As stated in this email scam, recipients can get information on how to claim the prize (one million GBP) by writing an email to It is very likely that when these scammers are contacted, they try to trick recipients into believing that the aforementioned prize can be claimed by paying a bank fee (or some other fee). Also, they may ask to provide various personal information like credit card details, account numbers, passwords, etc. If they get that information, they could gain access to email, bank, and/or other accounts and misuse them to make fraudulent purchases, transactions, steal identities, spread this spam campaign further or send other emails or for other malicious purposes. It is strongly recommended not to trust such emails. It is worthwhile to mention that scammers often try to make such emails to look more believable/less suspicious by exploiting names of well known companies like they do with Mastercard and Microsoft here.

Threat Summary:
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scammers claim that recipients have won one million pounds
Cyber Criminal Contact
Disguise This email is disguised as a letter from Mastercard finance director
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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More examples of email scams are "Suspicious Sign-In Attempt Prevented Email Scam", "Important: You Have 19 Pending Incoming Email(s) Email Scam" and "Dropbox Email Scam". Recipients who trust such emails often become victims of identity theft, lose money and/or access to personal accounts or even infect their computers with some malware. It is common that cyber criminals send emails that contain a malicious attachment or some link to a download page for a malicious file with a purpose to trick recipients into opening it. When opened, a malicious file install some malware. Some examples of malware that can be distributed this way are FormBook, TrickBot, LokiBot, Adwind.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Computers get infected with malware through emails when cyber criminals successfully deceive recipients into opening/executing a malicious attachment or a file downloaded from a malicious website. Some examples of files that cyber criminals attach to their emails are malicious PDF, Microsoft Office documents, archive files (like RAR, ZIP), executable files (like .exe) and JavaScript files. It is worthwhile to mention that malicious MS Office documents infect operating systems only when users give them a permission to enable editing/content (macros commands). Although, it applies only to documents opened with MS Office 2010 or newer version. Older versions do not have the the "Protected View" feature and infect systems without asking any permission.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Software should be downloaded only from official pages and via direct links. Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), unofficial websites, third party downloaders, etc., should not be used for that. Third party installers should not be used to install any software as well. Operating system and installed programs must be updated and/or activated only with implemented functions and/or tools that are designed by the official developers. Third party, unofficial activators ('cracking') and updaters can be designed to install malware. Besides, it is not legal to activate licensed software with various third party tools. Attachments and/or links in irrelevant emails that are received from suspicious, unknown addresses should not be opened. It is common that such emails are being sent by cyber criminals who attempt spread malware. It is worthwhile to mention that such emails often are disguised as important, official, and so on. And finally, it is recommended to have a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software installed on a computer and scan the system with it regularly. Therefore, we recommend to have one installed and always keep it up-to-date. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Appearance of the 2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD email scam:

2020 mastercard users award email scam appearance in gif image

Text presented in this email:

Subject: Congrats: Your E-mail Address Selected


Attention: E-mail Account Ownerm


We wish to congratulate you for being one of the selected E-mail Online WInners in the 2020 MASTERCARD USERS AWARD, Kindly view the enclosed Annex/Attachment for the MASTERCARD 2020 WINNING AWARD LETTER.


Cheers & Congratulations.


Brenda .T.Davidson (Secretary)



10 Upper Bank Street Canary Wharf.
London E14 5NP, England, United Kingdom


Attention: Online Prize Winner.
Award Numbers: GB/MS/644/2020/01
Email Bonus Numbers: MSLP-56786
Batch Numbers: GB/MS/776/354
Reference Numbers: MGB/879/356/20
Serial Numbers: MSGB/2020/01/M575


AMOUNT WON: £ 1,000,000.00 GBP (One Million Great Britain Pounds Sterling)
Your email address has bruoght you an unexpected luck, your e-mail address was selected and confirmed by MasterCard and our Co-sponsor Microsoft International, through their latest internet software for your usage of Microsoft and MasterCard products. You are therefore been approved by MasterCard GB International/Microsoft UK the sum of £ 1,000,000.00 GBP (One Million Gread Britain Pounds Sterling).
Name: Phill Barkley
Phone #: +44 793 704 9829
Fax   #: +44 843 524 1558
Do email the above MasterCard Finance Director, at once with all the claims requirements below. To avoid unnecessary delay, they are needed to proceed.

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes 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 - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Malwarebytes 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 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 Malwarebytes for Windows.

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 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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