Do not trust the "Message attachments were delayed" scam emails

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

"Message attachments were delayed" email scam removal guide

What is the "Message attachments were delayed" email?

"Message attachments were delayed" refers to an email spam campaign. The term "spam campaign" refers to a mass-scale operation, during which thousands of scam emails are sent. These deceptive letters claim that several email attachments have been delayed and were not delivered to the inbox. To access the attached files recipients are instructed to click a button, which redirects to a phishing website. This site is presented as a log-in page for recipients' mail account. The "Message attachments were delayed" promoted webpage is designed to record information (i.e. passwords) entered into it.

Message attachments were delayed email spam campaign

The "Message attachments were delayed" scam letters (subject/title "MAILBOX SECURITY UPDATE"; may vary) inform recipients that some email attachments were not delivered to their inbox. Allegedly, the nonexistent attachments failed to arrive, due to security/vulnerability scans and updates undertaken by recipients' mail service provider, which changed certain settings to the email accounts' settings. The undelivered attached files are listed as: "RE: Contract_INV_00478 For 30%", "Fw: FACTURE PROFORMA" and "RE: Outstanding Payment: USD $410,143.00". To access the attachments - recipients are to log-in to their email portal by clicking "Proceed Here to Recover" button. This link redirects to a phishing website that is disguised as the log-in page to recipients' email accounts. By trying to sign-in through this webpage, recipients will inadvertently expose their mail account credentials (i.e. passwords) to the scammers behind "Message attachments were delayed" emails. As mentioned in the introduction, these letters are scams and none of the information provided by them is true. Scammers are particularly interested in email accounts as they are often connected to others (e.g. social networking/media, messaging platform, file storage and transferring, e-commerce, digital wallet, banking and various other accounts. Hence, through hijacked emails - scammers may gain access to users' other accounts. To summarize, by trusting the "Message attachments were delayed" scam letters users can have their email accounts stolen (as well as any others associated with them), experience severe privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft. If attempts to sign-in through the phishing site have already been made, it is strongly advised to change the passwords and contact official support of any potentially compromised accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Message Attachments Were Delayed Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim several attachments did not reach the inbox.
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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"National UK Lottery", "Zoom Email Scam", "Deactivating All Inactive Accounts" and "Google Forms Email Scam" are some examples of other phishing spam campaigns. Deceptive emails are usually presented as "official", "urgent", "important", "priority" and similar. Phishing scams do not target account log-in credentials exclusively, they can be designed to gather a variety of sensitive/private information. Spam campaigns are also used for other scams and to spread malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware, etc.). Due to the relative prevalence of such mail, it is important to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected via virulent files distributed through spam campaigns. These files can be attached to the emails and/or the letters contain download links of malicious content. Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g. archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so on. When they are executed, run or otherwise opened - the infection process (i.e. download/installation of malware) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released before 2010, macros are executed the moment a document is opened. Newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents this process from being triggered automatically. Instead, users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e. to enable editing/content); therefore, malware download/installation can only be jumpstarted by manually enabling macros.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them - as that can result in a severe system infection. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malicious programs are also proliferated via dubious 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. It is advised to always download from official/trustworthy sources, as well as activate and update products with tools/functions provided by genuine developers. To protect device integrity and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. 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 "Message attachments were delayed" email letter:

Subject: MAILBOX SECURITY UPDATE

 

Dear *********,

 

SOME MESSAGE ATTACHMENTS WERE UNDELIVERED TO INBOX

 

Due to our online security and vulnerability scan fixes with the update on IMAP and POP settings, the message attachments for ********* were delayed, If you recognize this messages.

 

Log on to ********* Portal to recover delayed message attachments.

 

Proceed Here to Recover

 

Find some of the delayed message attachments being detected by the mail server for  ********* listed below:

 

Pending ✉: RE: Contract_INV_00478 For 30%    To: *********    30-11-2020
Pending ✉: Fw: FACTURE PROFORMA    To: *********    01-12-2020
Pending ✉: RE: Outstanding Payment: USD $410,143.00    To: *********    02-12-2020

 

Sincerely
Web Admin © 2020 *********.

 

Web Admin • Secured Service • Redmond, WA 98052
You are receiving this one-time notification because you created account.
This message link is secured and encrypted by NortonLifelock-1 for.

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted via "Message attachments were delayed" spam campaign:

Phishing website promoted by Message attachments were delayed spam campaign

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.

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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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