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

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

"Clustered e-mails pending" email scam removal guide

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 letters. The deceptive emails claim that recipients have messages waiting to be delivered into their inbox. It must be emphasized that the information provided by the "clustered e-mails pending" letters - is false. This spam campaign's aim 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 letters with the title/subject "Found nearly (5) clustered e-mails" (may vary) claim that recipients' email is clustered. Due to this, "nearly" five letters were undelivered to the inbox. The fake messages are supposedly pending the recipients' approval. There are two options given on what to do with the waiting emails - check/approve them or notify support of the error. As mentioned in the introduction, the "clustered e-mails pending" letters are not notifications from an official source, and none of the claims made by them are true. Hence, there are no undelivered emails, and by trying to sign-in through the phishing site (which the buttons in the scam letters redirect to) - 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 owner. 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/or 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, it is strongly advised to change the passwords of potentially compromised accounts. Furthermore, it is recommended to contact their official support channels.

Threat Summary:
Name Clustered E-mails Pending Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam letters 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 a few examples of 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 letters claim, offer, promise, request, or demand, the end-goal is always the same - to generate revenue for the scammers/ cyber criminals behind them.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected via virulent files distributed through them. These files can be attached to the scam emails, and/or the letters can contain download links of infectious content. Malicious files can be in different formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), JavaScript, and so forth. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - malware download/installation is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. This process begins the moment a document is opened in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. The newer versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents automatic execution of macros. In these program releases, users are asked to enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands) and warned of the risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and/or irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them - as they are sources of potential system infections. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Aside from spam campaigns, malware is also spread via untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders), illegal activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updaters. Therefore, it is advised to only download from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated using tools/functions provided by genuine developers. It is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. Furthermore, this software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected threats and issues. 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 "clustered e-mails pending" scam email letter:

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)

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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