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Do not trust "clustered e-mails pending" phishing scam emails

Also Known As: Clustered E-mails Pending spam
Damage level: Medium

What is the "clustered e-mails pending" scam email?

"Clustered e-mails pending" is an excerpt from scam emails, which serves as the title for the spam campaign distributing these messages. The deceptive emails claim that recipients have messages waiting to be delivered into their inboxes. Note that the information provided by "clustered e-mails pending" messages is false.

The purpose of this spam campaign is to trick recipients into attempting to access their email accounts through a phishing website.

clustered e-mails pending phishing email spam campaign

The scam messages with the title/subject "Found nearly (5) clustered e-mails" [this may vary] claim that the recipient's email is clustered. Due to this, "nearly" five messages were undelivered to the inbox. The fake messages are supposedly pending the recipient's approval.

There are two options given on what to do with the waiting emails: check/approve them or notify support of the error. In fact, the "clustered e-mails pending" messages are not notifications from an official source, and none of the claims made by them are true. There are no undelivered emails, and by trying to sign-in through the phishing site (to which the buttons in the scam letters redirect) recipients will inadvertently expose their mail account passwords.

Phishing websites operate by recording the information entered into them and sending it to the designers. Scammers are particularly interested in email accounts, as they are typically connected with other platforms, services, etc.

Through stolen emails, access and control may be gained over different accounts, which can be misused in various ways. For example, hijacked communication accounts (e.g., emails, social networking, social media, messengers, etc.) can be used by scammers to ask contacts/friends for loans under the guise of the genuine owners. Alternatively, via such platforms, cyber criminals can proliferate malware (by sharing infectious files).

Finance-related accounts (e.g., bank, online money transferring, e-commerce, digital wallet, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and online purchases.

To summarize, by trusting the "clustered e-mails pending" scam emails, users can lose their emails and associated accounts, experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

If attempts to log-in through the phishing site have already been made, you are strongly advised to change the passwords of potentially compromised accounts. Furthermore, contact your official support channels.

Threat Summary:
Name Clustered E-mails Pending Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam messages claim recipients have undelivered emails waiting for their approval.
Related Domains ctizuhvdko.web[.]app
Serving IP Address (ctizuhvdko.web[.]app) 151.101.1.195
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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The term "spam campaign" defines a mass-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. "Webmail email scam", "Email Account Is Almost Full", and "Synchronize Mail Error" are some examples of other campaigns similar to "clustered e-mails pending".

These operations are used for phishing, various other scams, and malware (e.g., trojan, ransomware, etc.) proliferation. Spam mail is usually presented as "official", "urgent", "important", "priority", and so on.

No matter what the scam messages claim, offer, promise, request or demand, the purpose is identical: to generate revenue for the scammers/cyber criminals behind them.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Phishing emails that are used to deliver malware generally contain a download link for a malicious file or attachment. Typically, cyber criminals attempt to trick recipients into opening a PDF or Microsoft Office document, JavaScript file, an executable file (.exe), ZIP, RAR, or other archive file that is designed to install specific malicious software.

Note that malicious MS Office documents can install malware only when users enable editing/content (macros commands). If the documents are opened with MS Office versions prior to 2010, however, the documents install malicious software automatically, since these older versions do not include "Protected View" mode.

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

Text presented in the "clustered e-mails pending" scam email message:

Subject: Found nearly (5) clustered e-mails

 

******** E-Mail Clustered On 3/4/2021 9:09:52 p.m.
Found nearly (5) clustered e-mails pending and not delivered yet to your webmail.   

 

Hi *******,

 

Pending and not sent emails are waiting for your approval.

 

Below list is approved for your prompt actions to be taken to restore back your emails to your webmail:

 

Check/Approve pending mails

 

Notify Error To Support

 

©******** Notification | All Rights Reserved.

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "clustered e-mails pending" spam campaign:

Phishing website promoted by the clustered e-mails spam campaign

Another variant of clustered email-themed spam promoting a phishing website:

Pending clusted e-mails spam (2021-03-10)

Text presented within:

Subject: ******** You have Six{6} pending mails

Message is from  ******** trusted source

You have Six{6} pending mails clustered on your cloud due to low mailbox storage capacity.

Logon to increase mailbox storage and release pending messages to your inbox following below instruction.

MOVE MAILS TO INBOX
CLEAN-UP CLOUD

Mails will remain pending till proper action is taken by you.

Messages older than 10 days will be removed


Best Regards,

******** Mail Admin.

________________________

This e-mail notification was sent to ********

(c)2021 Inc. All rights reserved. Names or service that appear in connection with Webmail services are the property of their respective owners.
Webmail monitors incoming and outgoing email communications, including the content of emails and attachments,
for purposes of security, legal compliance, training, quality assurance and other purposes.

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site:

Phishing website promoted via clustered email-themed spam (2021-03-10)

Yet another example of pending messages-themed scam email:

Pending email messages scam (2021-03-30)

Text presented within:

Subject: 3/29/2021 4:56:12 p.m. pending delivery messages on ********

 

Attention ********,

Your email messages are now queued up and pending delivery because your email has not been resently validated. All pending messages will be deleted within 48hrs if you do not take action.
You are required to verify your email ******** to restore normal email delivery.

Verify Email Now
 
noreply     ********     2 message
Action Required     
Pending
    
High Priority.
Disclaimer: This email and its content are confidential and intended solely for the use of the addressee.This message was sent from an unmonitored e-mail address please do not reply to this message Privacy|Term
Secured by CPanel Encryption, Copyright © 2009-2020 All rights reserved.

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site:

Phishing website promoted via pending messages-themed scam email (2021-03-30)

Another example of pending mail-themed spam used to promote a phishing website:

Emails pending phishing spam (2021-05-24)

Text presented within:

Subject: You have pending mails on ******** due to Expiration notice

 

********,

Upgrade Email and Ownership Verification.
Confirm Here
Thank you
******** Support.
5/24/2021

Screenshot of the promoted phishing website:

Phishing website promoted via pending mail phishing spam

Another example of clustered emails-themed spam:

Clustered E-mails scam (2021-06-04)

Text presented within:

Subject: You have (12) clustered e-mails not pending and not delivered yet to your mail.

 

Found nearly (12) clustered e-mails not pending and not delivered yet to your webmail.

Hi ********,

You have [12] undelivered mails on 6/1/2021 2:26:07 a.m..This was caused due to a system delay,

Below are list of approved for your prompt actions to Rectify the Error:

Check/Approve pending mails

Notify Error To Support

©.lt Notification | All Rights Reserved.

Yet another example of pending emails-themed spam:

Clustered E-mails Pending Email Scam (2021-06-30)

Text presented within:

Subject: Action Required: You have new held messages⚠️

From ******** Server Admin

You have six messages still pending to be delivered to your inbox since Monday, June 21st, 2021.

Mailbox: ********

Subject Recipient Date
FW: Invoice copy AWB No. 325-2322         ********          21/06/2021
Updated Sea Freight Quotation         ********          21/06/2021
AW: PO#203477 INVOICES         ********          20/06/2021
Re: 关于启动司编制21/06/2021计划         ********          18/06/2021
Fwd: Payment ---- Forwarded message ----         ********          17/06/2021
COVID-19 Safety Measures         ********          17/06/2021
 
 Release Pending Mails to inbox

Report Error To IT Help Desk

You will receive pending emails after successful login via portal as we apologize for the inconvenience.
Message Encrypted by ******** © All Rights Reserved. | If you do not wish to recieve this message Unsubscribe.

Yet another example of pending email-themed spam:

Pending Emails-themed spam (2021-06-30)

Text presented within:

Subject: Mail delivery failed: ******** have 6 Pending incoming messages.

 

You have Incoming Pending Messages

The following messages have been blocked by your mail-server due to validation error.

You have six pending messages .
 
Incoming  Messages:
Status :     Subject:     Time:
pending Fwd: Payment  ------ forwarded message ----       07:17 am
pending We didn't receive any reply from you CALL ME      07:21 am
pending RE: Updated PI 08:19 am
pending Zoom meeting request tomorrow     08:29 am
pending NEW ORDER 10:27  am
pending FedEx Shipment     11:02 am
DELIVER ALL MAILS


Note: The messages will be delivered within 1-2 hours after you receive a confirmation mail notice.

This message was sent by the MailDaemon server ******** notification.

Thank you!

Copyright© 2021 Webmail, Inc.

Yet another example of pending-emails themed spam promoting a phishing site:

Pending emails spam promoting a phishing site (2021-07-28)

Text presented within:

Subject: incoming messages are pending on your mail server

Hello ********,

Due to IMAP/POP error settings for ******** some incoming messages are pending on your mail server.

To avoid missing important messages, Log on to

Server portal

to automatically fix and download pending messages.

Note: Quarantined mails will be permanently deleted after 7days.

Thanks,

******** Mail Admin.

Screenshot of the promoted phishing website (johnspedy[.]co[.]uk):

Phishing site (johnspedy.co.uk) promoted via pending email spam

Yet another example of clustered email-themed spam promoting a phishing site:

Clustered e-mails pending-themed spam (2021-09-02)

Text presented within:

Subject: MAILBOX UPDATE - ******** have Pending 6 undelivered emails

 

We have recently upgraded our Secure Message system, and you have an important file waiting for approval on ********

Email Delivery Reports For ********
Pending Status :      Subject:       Time:
pending      : Fwd: Payment ------ forwarded message ------            04:41 am
pending      : Re:Re: Purchase Order 2021                         05:28 am
pending      : Hello ********, COVID-19 Update      07:21 am
pending      : Fwd: DHL Delivery For You       09:11 am
pending      : Your ******** storage is full      09:54 am
pending     : Re: Zoom meeting request tomorrow      11:21 am
Move To Inbox

Note :  The messages will be delivered within 1-2 hours after you receive a confirmation Mail Notice. Please do not reply. If this message lands in your spam folder, please move it to your inbox folder.

Copyrights 2021 ******** Source: Mail Support.

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site:

Phishing website promoted via Clustered e-mails pending-themed spam (2021-09-02)

Yet another example of clustered emails-themed spam:

Clustered E-mails Pending Email Scam (2021-12-16)

Text presented within:

Subject: 13 Messages Pending

 

To, ********

Your incoming messages are now queued up and pending delivery,
because your address has not been validated by Gsuite and Office365 servers.

You are required to validate your address ******** to restore normal inbox delivery.
____________________________________________________
Validate ******** Now

Please note:

Login with your eMail ******** Password
to validate, be sure to do so in a Secure Manner.

Once validated your Email Delivery system would be working
in Less Than 2 Hours.

Sincerely,
******** ISP Gateway.
____________________________________________________

This is a mandatory service communication for ********.  | If you no longer wish to receive this email Unsubscribe

Yet another example of pending mail-themed spam:

You have six messages still pending to be delivered scam email

Text presented within:

Subject: Still On E-mail Pending Status!

From ********** Server Admin

The following messages below are pending on the server due to low storage.

You have six messages still pending to be delivered to your inbox since Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022.

Find the subjects below and release messages using using the release link below.

Mailbox: **********

Subject                  Recipient                   Date
FW: Invoice copy AWB No. 325-2322         To: **********          02/02/2022
Updated Sea Freight Quotation         To: **********          02/02/2022
AW: PO#203477 INVOICES         To: **********          01/02/2022
Re: 关于启动司编制02/02/2022计划         To: **********          30/01/2022
Fwd: Payment ---- Forwarded message ----         To: **********          29/01/2022
COVID-19 Safety Measures         To: **********          29/01/2022
 
Release Pending Mails to inbox

Report Error To IT Help Desk

You will receive pending emails after successful login via portal as we apologize for the inconvenience.
Message Encrypted by ********** © All Rights Reserved. | If you do not wish to receive this message Unsubscribe.

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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.

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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