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

Also Known As: Agent Tesla RAT
Type: Trojan
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 Agent Tesla RAT
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:

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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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.

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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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