Do not trust the "Email Quarantine" scam email letters

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

"Email Quarantine" scam email removal guide

What is the "Email Quarantine" email letter?

"Email Quarantine" refers to a phishing email spam campaign. The term "spam campaign" is used to define a mass-scale operation, during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters distributed through the "Email Quarantine" campaign claim that users have several incoming emails, which have been "quarantined" (i.e. did not reach the inbox). To prevent the nonexistent letters from being deleted, recipients are instructed to log-in to their mail account. This is the main goal of this scam - to get users to inadvertently reveal their email account log-in credentials by entering them into a phishing website.

Email Quarantine scam email spam campaign

The "Email Quarantine" letters state that users have a specific number of emails in quarantine (as opposed to in the inbox or certain subfolder in the inbox). The title/subject of the researched variant was "You have (4) Messages Pending Delivery On Your e-Mail Portal", which implies that there are four "quarantined" emails. However, in the body of the letter it is stated that in fact two emails have been held back. The message is phrased in a way that implies users have a choice of how to approach the fake emails (i.e. release - allow into the inbox, delete, approve or block mail from the sender). To further the sense of urgency, the "Email Quarantine" scam letters claim that the withheld emails will be deleted within 24 hours (implying that users must take action immediately). The subjects/titles of the nonexistent emails (i.e. "AW: new order - V3088514" and "Fwd: Payment Advice Note from 06.11.2020") are also intended to sound important, thereby increasing users' hastiness. To prevent the imaginary emails from being deleted, users are to click the "Log in" button and re-access their mail account. This button redirects to a phishing site, which is disguised as a sign-in/log-in page. The webpage states that the session has been terminated and users must sign-in again to continue. It must be emphasized that all of the information provided by the "Email Quarantine" emails is false and by attempting to log-in through the phishing page - users will unintentionally reveal their log-in credentials to the scammers behind this spam campaign. Scammers target mail accounts as they are typically connected with other accounts; hence, through stolen email accounts - they may gain access to associated ones. Accounts of interest include (but are not limited to): social networking, social media, messaging platform, data storage and sharing, e-commerce, online money transferring, digital wallet, banking, and so forth. To summarize, trusting the "Email Quarantine" scam letters can result in loss of email accounts and others linked with them, severe privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft. If attempts to sign-in through the phishing website have already been made, it is strongly advised to change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts. Additionally, it is recommended to contact and inform the official support of all endangered accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Email Quarantine Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim that users have withheld emails and imply that they need to sign-in again to access the letters.
Related Domains z22nv.csb[.]app
Serving IP Address (z22nv.csb[.]app) 104.18.27.114
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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"Wire Transfer", "POWERBALL OFFICIAL 2020 WINNINGS", "Your Microsoft subscription has been expired" and "Last Warning: Upgrade your email to avoid Shutting Down" are some examples of other phishing spam campaigns. Phishing schemes do not exclusively target emails, but other accounts and personal information as well. Spam campaigns can have a variety of purposes and disguises. What is more, deceptive emails are also commonly used to proliferate malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.). Due to the relative prevalence of scam mail, it is advised to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns infect systems via virulent files distributed through them. The deceptive emails can have download links of infectious files and/or the files are simply attached to the letters. Malicious files can be in various formats (e.g. archives, executables, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.) and when they are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process/chain (malware download/installation) is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released before 2010 - macros are executed automatically upon the document's opening. The newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which asks users to enable macro commands (i.e. enable editing/content). Hence, in these versions - infection can only be triggered when macros are enabled manually.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid infecting devices with malicious software proliferated through spam mail, it is advised not to open suspicious and/or irrelevant emails - especially any links or attachments present in them. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. However, malware is also often spread via untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal activation tools ("cracks") and fake updaters. Therefore, it is important to download from official/verified sources and activate/update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To protect device and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed and kept updated. Furthermore, this software is to be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Email Quarantine" scam email letter:

Subject: You have (4) Messages Pending Delivery On Your e-Mail Portal

 

Email Quarantine
Dear info
You have 2 emails in quarantine
AW: new order - V3088514
From  Aurélie Fournier
MAIL FROM ********
To ********
9.11.2020 00:16:17 | Spam Mail | 72.4 kB
Release
Delete
Approve
Block
    Fwd: Payment Advice Note from 06.11.2020
From LISA MARSHALL
MAIL FROM ********
To ********
9.11.2020 00:16:17 | Spam Mail | 47.2 kB
Release
Delete
Approve
Block
 
Emails will be deleted automatically after 24 hours. You can change the frequency of these notifications within your email quarantine portal.
Log in

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted via "Email Quarantine" scam email:

Email Quarantine scam email promoted phishing site

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 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 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 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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