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Avoid losing your email account via "Monthly Email Validation" emails

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

"Monthly Email Validation" email scam removal guide

What is the fake "Monthly Email Validation" email?

"Monthly Email Validation" is the name of a phishing spam campaign. This term defines a large-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. These scam letters claim that certain functionalities of recipients' email accounts are unavailable due to it failing the "monthly validity check" test. The hoax emails urge recipients to perform the test manually - to restore the mailbox's supposedly restricted features. The aim of this spam campaign is to promote a phishing website, which is presented as a mail account log-in page. Information (i.e., email addresses and passwords) entered into this site are inadvertently exposed to the scammers behind the "Monthly Email Validation" letters, thereby allowing them to steal the corresponding accounts.

Monthly Email Validation email spam campaign

The "Monthly Email Validation" scam emails (subject/title "PERFORM VALIDITY CHECK") state that recipients' email accounts failed the automatic validity test. Due to this, some activities are restricted until the validation process is completed successfully. To recover the mailboxes' functionalities, recipients are informed that they must perform the validity check manually. The "PERFORM VALIDITY CHECK" button in these letters - redirects to a phishing webpage. Log-in credentials (i.e., email addresses and passwords) provided to this site are disclosed to the scammers. Therefore, the corresponding email accounts can be stolen.

Emails are especially targeted by scammers and cyber criminals, as these accounts are usually connected with others. Hence, through hijacked mail, access/control may be gained over platforms and services registered via the email. To elucidate how they can be used, then communication accounts (e.g., emails, social networking, social media, messengers, etc.) can be used to spread malware by sharing infectious files. Alternatively, scammers can use these platforms to ask contacts, friends, or followers for loans - under the guise of the genuine owner. Financial-related accounts (e.g., banking, online money transferring, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, by trusting the "Monthly Email Validation" scam letters - users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. If attempts to log in through the phishing website have already been made, it is strongly advised to immediately change the passwords of potentially compromised accounts. Furthermore, it is recommended to contact the official support of endangered platforms.

Threat Summary:
Name Monthly Email Validation Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim that use of recipients' email accounts has been restricted due to a failed validation test.
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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"Kaspersky Email Scam", "$1,000 Gift Card Email Scam", "OneDrive Email Scam", and "Upgrade Account Email Scam" are some examples of spam campaigns. The scam emails are usually presented as "important", "urgent", "priority", and similar; they may even be presented as letters from legitimate companies, institutions, authorities, organizations, service providers, and other entities. Spam campaigns are not used exclusively for phishing, they are also employed to facilitate different scams and to spread malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.). The sole purpose of deceptive emails is to generate revenue for the scammers/ cyber criminals behind them. Due to the prevalence of spam mail, it is advised to exercise caution with inbound emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected via malicious files that are distributed through spam campaigns. These files can be attached to and/or linked inside the scam emails. Virulent files can be in various formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives, executables, JavaScript, etc. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection process (i.e., malware download/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. This process is triggered automatically upon the document's opening - in Microsoft Office versions released prior to 2010. Later versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro execution. Instead, users are asked to enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands) and warned of potential threats.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspicious and irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links present in them. It is also recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. Aside from spam campaigns, malware is proliferated via untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updaters. Therefore, it is important to only perform downloads from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device integrity and user privacy, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept up-to-date. 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 "Monthly Email Validation" scam email letter:

Subject: PERFORM VALIDITY CHECK ********

 

******** Monthly Email Validation
Dear ********,
 
Your email ******** failed automatic validity test for April, 2021.

 

Some activities will be restricted till you perform your mailbox monthly validity check manually.

 

PERFORM VALIDITY CHECK

 

We hope to serve you better.
Regards,
******** Team.
____________________

 

******** All Rights Reserved.

Another example of monthly email validation-themed spam email:

Monthly Email Validation-themed spam email (2021-04-21)

Text presented within:

Subject: Management Monthly Email Validation

Dear ********,

Your email ******** failed automatic validity test for April, 2021.
Some activities will be restricted till you perform your mailbox monthly validity manually.
PERFORM VALIDITY CHECK
We hope to serve you better.

Regards,
******** Team.
_______________________________________________________
Management All Rights Reserved 2021

Screenshot of a website promoted via this spam email:

Phishing website promoted via Monthly Email Validation-themed spam email (2021-04-21)

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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