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Do not trust malware-spreading "Request For Payment" scam emails

Also Known As: Request For Payment spam
Damage level: Severe

What is the "Request For Payment" email?

"Request For Payment email virus" refers to a spam campaign designed to proliferate malware. The term "spam campaign" defines a large-scale operation, during which thousands of deceptive/scam emails are sent. The "Request For Payment" messages attempt to trick recipients into opening the attached dangerous file by stating that it is an important payment invoice.

If the malicious file is opened, the infection process (i.e. download/installation) of Agent Tesla Remote Access Trojan (RAT) is initiated. RATs operate by enabling stealthy remote access and control over an infected machine. This type of malware can have a wide variety of dangerous functionality and poses a significant threat to device/user safety.

Request For Payment malware-spreading email spam campaign

The scam emails, with the subject/title "Request For Payment", invite recipients to review the attached file ("Payment Advice345.rar", which contains "Payment Advice345.exe"), supposedly regarding the sender's latest payment. Additionally, the messages state that recipients might be asked to send an updated Statement of Account (SOA) document regarding transactions between two parties made within a certain period of time.

None of the information provided by the "Request For Payment" deceptive emails is genuine. The sole purpose of the messages is to infect recipients' devices with the Agent Tesla RAT. The infection chain is triggered immediately the attached malicious executable (which is contained in the archive file) is opened.

As mentioned, these Trojans enable access and control over infected machines. The primary functionality of Agent Tesla is extraction and exfiltration of information. This malware has keylogging capabilities. I.e., it records key strokes. Keylogging is commonly used to obtain the log-in credentials (i.e. IDs, usernames and passwords) of email, social networking, social media, communication/messaging, data storage and transferring, e-commerce (online store), digital wallet, banking and various other accounts.

To summarize, by trusting the "Request For Payment" scam emails, users can experience system infections, serious privacy issues, financial loss and even identity theft. If is it known or suspected that Agent Tesla (or other malware) has already infected the system, use anti-virus software to eliminate it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Request For Payment spam
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Scam emails supposedly contain payment invoices, which recipients are asked to review.
Attachment(s) Payment Advice345.rar that contains Payment Advice345.exe
Detection Names Fortinet (MSIL/Kryptik.YYS!tr), BitDefenderTheta (Gen:NN.ZemsilCO.34670.4m0@a0l7Dpe), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GenKryptik.EYBZ), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Agensla.gen), Microsoft (Program:Win32/Wacapew.C!ml), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal).
Symptoms Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Payload Agent Tesla
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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"MSC Email Virus", "FedEx Freight Email Virus", "iPhone 12 Email Virus", "VodaFone Email Virus" and "Inditron Enterprises Email Virus" are some examples of other malware-spreading spam campaigns.

The deceptive emails are usually disguised as "official", "urgent", "important", "priority" and similar. They might even be presented as mail from legitimate institutions organizations, companies, businesses, service providers and other entities. These messages proliferate a wide variety of malicious programs such as Trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, and so on.

Note that spam campaigns are not used exclusively for distribution of malware, they are also used for phishing and other scams.

How did "Request For Payment Email Virus" infect my computer?

Typically, cyber criminals behind malspam campaigns send emails with a file attached to them or a download link to the malicious file. Their main goal is to trick recipients into opening/executing the rogue file, which then installs malicious software.

Some examples of files that cyber criminals send via email are Microsoft Office and PDF documents, executables (.exe), JavaScript, and archives (ZIP, RAR).

Note that malicious documents that are opened with Microsoft Office 2010 or newer versions install malicious software only if users enable macros commands (enable editing/content). These versions include "Protected View" mode, which does not allow opened malicious documents to install malware automatically. Older versions do not include this feature and install malicious software without asking permission.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid malware spread via spam mail, you are strongly advised against opening suspicious or irrelevant emails, especially those with any attachments or links present within them.

Additionally, use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malicious programs also proliferate through untrusted download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders), illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updaters.

Therefore, only download from official/verified sources and activate and update software with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers.

To ensure device integrity and user privacy, have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. Furthermore, use these programs to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats.

If you have already opened a "Request For Payment Email Virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Request For Payment" email message:

Subject: Request For Payment.

 

Good day.

 

Please see attached file regarding our latest payment.

 

May we also request for an updated Statement of Account (SOA)
of all due invoices for the month of JAN 2019.

 

Thanks!
Best Regard
Alice Tai
Crew Payroll
Raffles Shipmanagement Services Pte Ltd
DID: +65 6508 0416
MOB: +65 9644 0163
Email : Alice.taicaiting@sg.wilmar_intl.com

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "Request For Payment" spam campaign ("Payment Advice345.exe"):

Request For Payment scam email malicious attachment VirusTotal detections (Payment Advice345.exe)

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner 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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Quick menu:

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.

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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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