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Do not reply to INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) scam

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

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) email scam removal guide

What is INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) email scam?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a legitimate financial institution, an international organization that promotes global economic growth, reduces poverty, encourages international trade. It is known that there is more than one email scam variant pretending to be authored by IMF officials. Typically, scammers behind those emails attempt to trick recipients into contacting the IMF for issuance of some form of approval, to receive a donation, or for some another matter. In one way or another, the purpose of these emails is to deceive recipients into providing some personal information or transferring money.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) email scam email spam campaign

It is common for scammers to use the names of real people, use actual company logos, addresses, etc., to make their hoax seem real. This is an email scam pretending to be a letter 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 contacting them for more information. It is likely that after contacting scammers, recipients would be asked to send personal banking details (like 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, transactions, steal identities, hijack personal accounts, etc., or sell it to third parties (other cybercriminals). Therefore, recipients who fall for such scams suffer monetary loss, cannot access their personal accounts, become victims of identity theft, and (or) encounter other serious problems. This and other similar emails are just scams that have to be ignored and should be reported.

Threat Summary:
Name INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) Email Scam
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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There are many various email scams circulating on the Internet, some examples are "U.S Army Special Operations Command Consignment Email Scam", "EMPLOYEE BENEFITS Email Scam", and "Synchronize Mail Error Email Scam". As a rule, they are disguised as official letters from existing, legitimate companies or other entities and ask for personal information or payment. Although, it is important to know that 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?

Emails that are used as channels to deliver malware are called either malspam or phishing emails. Usually, they contain a malicious link (download link for a malicious file) or attachment. Examples of files that cybercriminals use in their emails are Microsoft Office documents (such as Word, Excel), EXE (.exe) and other executable files, RAR, ZIP archive files, JavaScript files. Usually, those files infect computers when users open them, although not always. For example, documents opened with Microsoft Office 2010 or newer do not install malware unless users enable macros commands (editing or content). Nevertheless, this does not apply to documents opened with older MS Office versions - they infect computers right after opening them.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Software and files should not be downloaded from any unreliable sources, all downloads should come from official, trustworthy websites and via direct links. Examples of sources that should not be used for downloading files or programs are Peer-to-Peer networks (like torrent clients, eMule), unofficial pages, third-party downloaders, free file hosting pages, etc. Attachments (and links) in irrelevant emails that are received from unknown, suspicious senders tend to be a part of some malspam campaign (used as channels to deliver malware). Links or files in such emails should not be opened. Installed software must be updated or activated with tools (or functions) that are provided by the official developers. It is common for third party tools to be malicious (to be bundled with malware). Also, it is not legal to activate licensed software with various 'cracking' tools or use hacked (pirated) software. The operating system should be scanned for threats regularly, it should be protected using a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software. 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 email:

Subject: I.M.F Grant Recipient


INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF)
700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20431,
U.S.A
 
Date: 19/02/2021
 
IMF OFFICIAL EMPOWERMENT GRANT AND DONATION PROGRAMME 2021
 
Dear Selected International Recipient,
 
REFERENCE NUMBER: IMF/WDC/1109/0320
 
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,
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA
(MANAGING DIRECTOR)
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (I.M.F)

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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