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Do not trust the "Synchronize Mail Error" scam emails

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

"Synchronize Mail Error" email scam"removal guide

What is the "Synchronize Mail Error" scam email?

"Synchronize Mail Error" refers to an email spam campaign. This term refers to a large-scale operation during which deceptive emails are sent by the thousand. The letters distributed through this campaign notify recipients that they have a number of pending emails. The messages are supposedly withheld and require to be released or deleted. It must be emphasized that this information is false, and recipients have no mail that has failed to arrive into their email inbox. The purpose of the "Synchronize Mail Error" scam letters is to promote a phishing website, which is disguised as the email account sign-in page. Any data entered into this site is disclosed to the scammers behind the spam campaign.

Synchronize Mail Error email spam campaign

The "Synchronize Mail Error" scam emails (subject/title "Synchronize Mail Error: [13] messages to ******** is delayed for 48 hours"; may vary) inform recipients that they have thirteen incoming messages. The letters allegedly failed to arrive into the inbox due to a security level lift on the email server. Recipients are reassured that the nonexistent emails are currently stored on a backup server. The scam letters instruct to either release the messages into the inbox or discard them if they are irrelevant. By clicking the "Release all Pending" link in the emails, recipients are redirected to the phishing webpage. This site is presented as the sign-in page to the recipients' email accounts. Log-in credentials (i.e., passwords) provided to the website are revealed to the scammers. If attempts to sign-in through this webpage have already been made, it is advised to immediately change the emails' passwords (and those of other potentially affected accounts). Additionally, it is recommended to contact the official support of all possibly compromised accounts/services.

Email accounts are of particular interest to scammers as they are often associated with other accounts/services. Hence, through hijacked mails - it may be possible to gain access to connected content/platforms. To elaborate on how this can be misused via stolen communicating accounts (e.g., emails, social networking, social media, messengers, etc.), scammers can assume the owner's identity and ask contacts/friends for loans. Alternatively, by sharing infectious files through such accounts - cyber criminals can proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.). Accounts that directly or indirectly deal with finances or financial information (e.g., store credit card details) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, by trusting the "Synchronize Mail Error" scam letters, recipients can lose their emails and associated accounts/services, experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Synchronize Mail Error Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim recipients have messages pending arrival into their email inbox.
Related Domains airus.co[.]uk, laptopspot[.]co
Serving IP Address (airus.co[.]uk) 50.116.93.215
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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"New sign-in on", "Order Error", "N26 email scam", and "Email Disabling Service" are a few examples of phishing spam campaigns. The letters distributed through these mass-scale operations are usually disguised as "official", "urgent", "important", and similar. This mail may even be presented as messages from genuine institutions, organizations, companies, service providers, and other entities. Spam mail is used for phishing and various other scams, but most importantly - to spread malware. Due to the relative prevalence of deceptive emails, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming letters.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns infect systems via virulent files distributed through them. The scam emails contain download links of malicious files, and/or the files are simply attached to the letters. Infectious files can be in various formats (e.g., archives, executables, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.), and when they are opened - malware download/installation is triggered. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released before 2010, this process begins the moment a document is opened. Newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable macro commands (i.e., to enable editing/content) and are warned of the risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them - as they are origins of potential system infections. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Aside from spam campaigns, malware is also spread through untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal software activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Therefore, all downloads must be done from official and verified sources. It is just as important to activate and update programs with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware installed and kept updated. This software is to be used to perform regular system scans and remove detected/potential threats. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Synchronize Mail Error" scam email letter:

Subject: Synchronize Mail Error: [13] messages to ******** is delayed for 48 hours


Synchronize Mail Error

 

Mail at ********* unable to synchronize [13] incomming mails to your account ID (********) due to security level lift on mail server.

 

However, all pending mails are stored on mail server backup Storage Kindly release all relevant mail or Discard spam mail:  Release all Pending

 

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service   | Customer Support |  Unsubscribe
2020 ********. All Rights Reserved.

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "Synchronize Mail Error" spam campaign:

Synchronize Mail Error email scam promoted phishing website

Another example of email synchronization-themed spam email used to promote an identical phishing website:

Email synchronization error-themed spam email (2021-03-26)

Text presented within:

Dear ********

Kindly follow the below instructions inorder to clear Error 503 on  ********-sever for ******** to enable completed synchronization and no loss of messages .

This may also cause account to be disabled if ignored.

Synchronize ********

Administration Team
******** @2021

Screenshot of a phishing website promoted via this spam email:

Phishing website promoted via Synchronize Mail Error spam email

Yet another variant of mail synchronization-themed spam:

Synchronization Mail Error spam (2021-04-26)

Tet presented within:

Subject: Pending messages for ********

********
At 4/23/2021 01:08:50 a.m. your Mailbox returned (7) incoming mails.
Synchronization failed due to a server error
RECOVER MESSAGES
Message for ********

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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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.

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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