How to recognize phshing scams like INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)?

Damage level: Medium


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a legitimate financial institution, an international organization that promotes global economic growth, reduces poverty, encourages international trade. There is more than one email scam variant claiming to be authored by IMF officials.

Typically, scammers behind these bogus emails attempt to trick recipients into contacting the IMF for issuance of some form of approval, to receive a donation, or for other matters. In any case, the purpose of these emails is to deceive recipients into providing personal information or transferring money.



Scammers often use the names of real people, use actual company logos, addresses, etc., to make their hoaxes seem real. This is an email scam claiming to be a message from Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Scammers behind it attempt to trick recipients into believing that they were selected to receive a donation from the IMF and into contacting them for more information. It is likely that after contacting the scammers, recipients will be asked to send personal banking details (such as credit card details), or make a small payment like a "transaction fee".

Typically, when scammers successfully obtain credit card details and other personal information, they use it to make fraudulent purchases and transactions, steal identities, hijack personal accounts, etc., or sell it to third parties (other cyber criminals).

Therefore, recipients who fall for these scams suffer monetary loss, cannot access their personal accounts, become victims of identity theft, and encounter other serious problems. This and other similar emails are simply scams - they should be ignored and reported.

Threat Summary:
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient has been selected to receive a donation
Disguise A letter from the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
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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Phishing scams in general

Plentu of email scams are circulating the internet. Some examples are "U.S Army Special Operations Command Consignment Email Scam", "EMPLOYEE BENEFITS Email Scam", and "Synchronize Mail Error Email Scam". They are often disguised as official messages from existing, legitimate companies or other entities, and ask for personal information, payments.

In fact, the emails can be used to deliver malware. In such cases, emails contain malicious links or attachments. Their main purpose is to deceive recipients into opening malicious files.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Malware (including ransomware) is usually distributed via malspam campaigns, unofficial software activation ('cracking') tools, Trojans, dubious file/software download sources, and fake software updating tools.

When cyber criminals attempt to distribute malware via malspam campaigns, they send emails that contain malicious attachments or download links for malicious files. Typically, they disguise their emails as official and important. If recipients open the attached file (or a file downloaded via a website link), they cause installation of malicious software.

Cyber criminals commonly attach executable files (.exe), archive files such as RAR, ZIP, PDF documents, JavaScript files and Microsoft Office documents to their emails. Software 'cracking' tools supposedly activate licensed software illegally (bypass activation), however, they often install malicious programs and do not activate any legitimate installed software.

Trojans are other rogue programs that can cause chain infections. I.e., when a Trojan is installed on the operating system, it can install additional malware.

Free file hosting websites, freeware download websites, Peer-to-Peer networks (e.g., torrent clients, eMule), unofficial websites, and third party downloaders are examples of other sources that are used to distribute malware. Cyber criminals disguise malicious files as legitimate and regular. When users download and open them, they inadvertently infect their computers with malware.

Fake software updating tools install malicious software rather than updates/fixes for installed programs, or they exploit bugs/flaws of outdated software that is installed on the operating system.

How to avoid installation of malware

Download software and files from official websites and via direct links. It is not safe to use torrent clients, eMule (or other Peer-to-Peer networks), third party downloaders, unofficial websites or other sources of this kind.

Avoid third party installers. Check "Advanced", "Custom" and other settings, and decline offers to download or install unwanted software. Do not click ads that are displayed on dubious websites, since they can open other untrusted websites or even cause unwanted downloads and installations.

Remove any unwanted, suspicious applications (extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins) that are installed on the browser. The same should be applied to programs of this kind that are installed on the operating system.

Regularly scan your computer with reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software and keep this software up to date.

If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the email:

Subject: I.M.F Grant Recipient

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20431,
Date: 19/02/2021
Dear Selected International Recipient,
We have selected you to receive a Donation from Us (I.M.F), email back for More Information.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:hxxps://www.imf.org/external/np/cpac/gandd.htm
Kindly confirm the receipt of this E-mail.
Yours in Service,

Another example of INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND-themed spam email:

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND email scam (2021-05-06)

Text presented within:

Subject: Directive from Dr Kristalina Georgieva the M D IMF, Please Contact Mr. Wilbur Autry for further Directives on your fund payment.


700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Email: wilburautry.imf@aol.com
Date: 4/5/2021

To the knowledge of the Beneficiary.

Re Payment of $5.2m
In our efforts to foster global monetary cooperation secures financial
stability and facilitates individual company economic growth.

The IMF through our international monitoring network has recovered
your UNPAID FUND $5.2m that has been on hold.

We hereby advise you to reconfirm to this office officially if you are
the person that instructed Mr. RAVIS RAY LUNN of America to claim and
receive the payment on your behalf before we send your fund transfer
instruction to one of our approved paying banks to contact you for the
release of your fund.

For your information we have the following banks as our
nominated/approved payment banks, Lloyd’s Bank London, Citibank New
York and CMB WING LUNG Bank Hong Kong.

Please, Re-confirm as follows
(1) Your Full Name........?
(2) Full Residential Address: (P.O.BOX NOT ALLOWED)?
(3) Country/State..........?
(4) Beneficiary Amount?
(5) Direct and Current Phone?
(6) Passport identification?

Please you are also required to clarify the following immediately:
1. IS Williams Rogers your local representative?
2. Did you broker your fund to one Mr. TRAVIS RAY LUNN of America to claim?
  And receive the payment on your behalf?

3. Did you sign any “Deed of Assignment” in his favor, thereby making
him the current beneficiary with the following account details to
receive your fund?

Bank Address: 450 NE WINDY KNOLLS DR BEND,OR,97701
Beneficiary Account Number: 8210526748
Swift Code:WFBIUS6S
Routing Number for wire Transfer: 12100024

Please confirm so that we can proceed with your fund payment as we
don’t anticipate any further delay.

Contact Mr. Wilbur Autry.
Operation department for further Directive.
Email: wilburautry.imf@aol.com

Thank you and have a nice day.

Dr Ms. Kristalina Georgieva
Managing Director

Another example of INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND-themed spam email:


Text presented within:

Attention: Beneficiary

This is to officially notify you that International Monetary Fund
(IMF)/World Bank together with Coris Bank International is
compensating all the scam victims with the sum of US$500,000.00(Five
Hundred thousand United States Dollars) each and your email address
was found among the scam victims list that's why we are contacting
you. We have deposited your fund at the payment director/agent
location where the investigation started.

Contact Mr. Donald Mito payment Director with our office email:
(**********) Reconfirm the below information to him to
be sure of the person we are paying and to update your files, you can
as well reach him on mobile phone +228 70469666

1) Your Full Name:
2) Address, City, State and Country:
3) Personal Cell Phone, Fax and Mobile:
4) Company Name (If Any) Position And Address:
5) Occupation, Age and Marital Status:
6) Copy of Your Int'l Passport/Drivers License:

Upon the receipt of the above information more details will be given to you.

Yours Sincerely.

International Monetary Fund
Kristalina Georgieva
Current Managing Director

Attenzione: Beneficiario

Questo per informarti ufficialmente che il Fondo Monetario
Internazionale (FMI)/Banca Mondiale insieme a Coris Bank International
sta risarcindo tutte le vittime della truffa con la somma di US $
500.000,00 (cinquecentomila dollari statunitensi) ciascuna e il tuo
indirizzo email è stato trovato tra i elenco delle vittime della
truffa ecco perché ti stiamo contattando. Abbiamo depositato il tuo
fondo presso il direttore dei pagamenti/la sede dell'agente in cui è
iniziata l'indagine.

Contatta il Direttore dei pagamenti Mr. Donald Mito con la nostra
email di ufficio: (**********) Riconfermagli le
informazioni di seguito per essere sicuro della persona che stiamo
pagando e per aggiornare i tuoi file, puoi anche raggiungerlo sul
cellulare + 228 70469666

1) Il tuo nome completo:
2) Indirizzo, Città, Stato e Paese:
3) Cellulare personale, Fax e Mobile:
4) Nome dell'azienda (se presente) Posizione e indirizzo:
5) Professione, età e stato civile:
6) Copia del tuo passaporto internazionale/patente di guida:

Al ricevimento delle informazioni di cui sopra ti verranno forniti
maggiori dettagli.

Cordiali saluti.

Fondo monetario internazionale
Kristalina Georgieva
Attuale amministratore delegato

Another example of INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND-themed spam email:

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND-themed spam email (2022-05-14)

Text presented within:

700 1 Westfield Avenue, Stratford,
London. E20 1HZ
Hello Grant Recipient -,
We have selected you to receive a Grant Cash Donation of $1,550,000.00 USD.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Kindly Reply via email: imfintmonetaryfund@icloud.com and Send your Reference Number
(IMF/WDC/1109/0320) for Confirmation via Whats-App Message to I.M.F Public Relations Center:+44 7377 170359.

Thanks for your Understanding.
Yours in Service,


Yet another example of INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) scam email:

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) email scam (2022-06-13)

Text presented within:



700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20431, U.S.A
Date: 09/06/2022

Dear Lithuanian Grant Recipient,
We have selected you to receive a Grant Cash Donation of $1,550,000.00 USD.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Kindly Reply via email and Send your Grant Reference Number :(IMF/WDC/334/0288/2022) for Confirmation via Whats App Message to I.M.F Public Relations Center: +1 619 485 6806.

Thanks for your Understanding.

Yours in Service,

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Usually, cybercriminals use obtained email databases to spread their scams. They send the same email (or emails) to many people - these emails are never personal.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by this email, what should I do?

Victims who have fallen for such scams (have provided account credentials) should change all passwords immediately. In other cases (for example, when the provided information is credit card details, ID card information etc.), users should contact corresponding authorities.

Can emails be used to distribute malware?

Emails can be used as tools to trick recipients into infecting their computers. Such emails contain malicious attachments or links. Recipients infect computers by opening/executing malicious files.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Yes, Combo Cleaner will detect and eliminate almost all known malware infections. It is recommended to scan the operating system using the full scan feature. Certain types of malware are capable of hiding deep in the system.

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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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