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Avoid getting scammed by fake "LinkedIn" emails

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

"LinkedIn email scam" removal guide

What are fake "LinkedIn" emails?

"LinkedIn email scam" refers to spam campaigns - large-scale operations during which thousands of emails presented as messages from LinkedIn are sent. LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented online service, designed to aid in professional networking. The aim of the fake "LinkedIn" emails is to steal users' LinkedIn and/or email accounts. This is achieved via promotion of phishing websites that are disguised as sign-in pages. Log-in credentials (e.g., email addresses, usernames, and passwords) entered into such sites are exposed to scammers, who can then use them to gain access/control over the corresponding accounts.

LinkedIn email spam campaign (subject/title - Lee Railton sent you 1 new inquiry (Via LinkedIn))

The fraudulent "LinkedIn" emails can wear a variety of disguises and concern different topics. These letters promote phishing websites through links presented in them or attached files that lead to said pages. For example, scam emails with the title/subject "Lee Railton sent you 1 new inquiry (Via LinkedIn)" are disguised as notifications, which alert recipients that they have an unread inquiry message. The researched letters endorsed phishing sites through links (buttons) and file attachments. The fake "LinkedIn" website pushed via this email variant was hosted on Weebly (a legitimate web hosting service) and requested users to sign in using their email account credentials. To avoid having LinkedIn, email, or other online accounts stolen, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming emails. It is recommended to pay attention to the senders' email addresses, contents of the letters, and sign-in webpage URLs. Should attempts to log in via a phishing website have already been made - the accounts' passwords must be changed immediately. Additionally, the official support of the potentially compromised platforms should be contacted without delay.

To elaborate on how scammers can use hijacked communication-related platforms (e.g., professional networking [LinkedIn], social media, email, messengers, etc.) - they can pretend to be the account's genuine owner and ask contacts/friends for loans. Alternatively, these platforms can be used to spread malware by sharing infectious files or links to malicious websites. Email accounts are of particular interest to scammers as they are typically connected to other platforms and services. Hence, via stolen emails - access/control may be gained over content associated with them. In addition to communication-oriented accounts, finance-related ones are often registered through emails as well. Banking, money transferring, e-commerce, digital wallet, and similar accounts can be used by scammers to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, by trusting fake "LinkedIn" emails, users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, identity theft, and system infections.

Threat Summary:
Name LinkedIn Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Disguise Scam emails are presented as mail from LinkedIn
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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"Banca Popolare di Bari email scam", "EMS email scam", "cPanel email scam", "OneDrive email scam", "GoDaddy email scam", and "Banca Sella email scam" are some examples of phishing spam campaigns. The letters distributed through these mass-scale operations - are usually presented as "official", "urgent", "priority", and similar. Aside from phishing, deceptive emails are also used to facilitate other scams and to proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.). The sole goal of scam letters is to generate revenue for the scammers/ cyber criminals behind them.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns spread malware via virulent files distributed through them. These files can be attached to the scam emails, and/or the letters can contain download links of malicious content. Infectious files can be in various formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), JavaScript, and so forth. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e., malware download/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. This process is triggered the moment a document is opened - in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. Newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands) and warned of the risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid infecting the system via spam mail, it is expressly advised against opening suspicious and irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links found in them. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malware is not proliferated exclusively through spam campaigns, it is also distributed via dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, and other third-party downloaders), illegal activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updaters. Therefore, it is important to download only from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers. To ensure device and user safety, 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 and potential threats. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in a "LinkedIn" scam email letter:

Subject: Lee Railton sent you 1 new inquiry (Via LinkedIn)

 

LinkedIn

 

Lee Railton

 

Lee Railton sent you inquiry message
Check inquiry

 

Unsubscribe  |  Help

 

You are receiving LinkedIn notification emails.

 

This email was intended for ********. Learn why we included this.
LinkedIn

 

© LinkedIn. Mailing address: Room 817, 18F, Building 18, #1 DiSheng Bei Road, Beijing Yizhuang Development Area, China. LinkedIn and the LinkedIn logo are registered trademarks of LinkedIn.

Screenshot of a fake LinkedIn website (hosted via Weebly - legitimate web hosting service) promoted by these scam emails:

Fake LinkedIn website promoted by spam emails

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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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