What is the "PayPal Email Phishing Scam"?
"PayPal Email Phishing Scam" refers to a spam campaign - a large-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters distributed through this campaign are disguised as purchase notifications from PayPal - an online money transferring company. The aim of these scam emails is to obtain personal and sensitive information from the recipients. Potentially, to also trick them into making fraudulent payments.
"PayPal" scam email in detail
The fake "PayPal" emails (subject/title "Your Purchase Id: @@#7488392XR8499371##"; may vary) inform recipients that their purchase from Target has been confirmed. The 585.96 USD payment is going through the verification, and recipients are promised to be sent a notification once the process is complete.
Additionally, the scam letters state that the nonexistent order will arrive through the standard delivery method chosen by the recipients. Allegedly, the payment will be completed in a few hours and will be reflected in the recipients' bank statements. The emails contain a phone number that can be used if any issues arise.
Furthermore, recipients are warned that the fake order can only be canceled within 24 hours. As mentioned in the introduction, these "PayPal" emails are fake. Therefore, by calling the provided number - users will contact the scammers and subsequently may be tricked into disclosing sensitive information or making bogus payments.
Emails like these scam "PayPal" notifications often operate as phishing schemes. Scams of this type are designed to extract a variety of vulnerable data from their victims. Information of interest includes: account/platform log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, email addresses, usernames, and passwords), personal details (e.g., names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, occupations, etc.), finance-related data (e.g., credit card numbers), and so on.
For example, the collected data can be used to further personalized scams and/or sold to third-parties (potentially, cyber criminals). To elaborate in more detail, through stolen finance-related accounts (e.g., online money transferring service accounts like PayPal) - scammers can make fraudulent transactions and/or payments for online purchases.
What is more, similar schemes commonly ask victims to pay for fake services. These "PayPal" letters may also operate as "refund scams". This scam model works by tricking the victim into thinking that they are owed a refund (e.g., for a purchase that they did not make).
The "refund" process usually involves victims allowing scammers to remotely access their devices (this can lead to various issues, including system infections). After the access is established, users are asked to enter the correct refund amount.
The scammers then convince the victims that they made an error and a significantly larger sum has been refunded to them. To rectify this, they are asked to return the excess funds - typically through difficult-to-trace methods like digital currency transactions (e.g., gift cards, pre-paid vouchers, cryptocurrency, etc.) or hidden within mail packages.
Due to the fact that no funds, excessive or otherwise, have even been transferred into the victims' accounts - they are essentially scammed out of their own money. To summarize, by trusting the fake "PayPal" emails, users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.
|Name||PayPal Email Phishing Scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Emails claim a purchase payment is being verified|
|Disguise||Scam emails are disguised as notifications from PayPal|
|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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Spam campaigns in general
"Voicemail", "Anti-Spam Policy Violation", "Wage Increase", "The BMW Lottery", and "UN Covid-19 Stimulus Package" are some examples of scam emails. The letters sent through spam campaigns are disguised as "official", "urgent", "important", "priority", and similar.
Aside from phishing and various scams, deceptive emails are also used to proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, etc.). Due to how widespread spam mail is, it is strongly advised to exercise caution with incoming emails and messages.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain/process (i.e., malicious software download/installation) is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands.
This process starts the moment a document is opened in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. Later versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users can manually enable macro commands (i.e., editing/content), and they are warned of the potential risks.
How to avoid installation of malware?
To avoid infecting the system via spam mail, it is advised against opening suspicious and irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links present in them. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010.
However, malware is not spread just through spam campaigns, it is also distributed via dubious download channels, e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting (freeware) websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (e.g., Torrent clients, eMule, Gnutella, etc.), and other third-party downloaders.
Furthermore, illegal activation ("cracking") tools and fake updates are prime examples of malware-proliferating content. Therefore, it is important to download only from official/verified sources and activate/update software with tools provided by genuine developers.
It is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected 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 the fake "PayPal" email letter:
Subject: Your Purchase Id: @@#7488392XR8499371##
Your order has been confirmed by Target Inc worth 585.96 USD on July 20, 2021
We are going through the verification process for your recent order, once done we will notify you.
Your product will be delivered through standard delivery as you have opted for this service.
We would suggest you to kindly check your bank statement in few hours for this charge.
If you have any questions about this charge, please connect with our team at +1 (866) 314-1823.
Here is your order details: -
Ref Id: 873934YT398849
Payment Mode: PayPal Credit (Online Payment)
Description: Fitbit Versa 3 Smartwatch
Amount: 585.96 USD
If you have any payment related issues or you wish to change your mode of payment, please connect with our team at +1 (866) 314-1823.
In order to cancel this order kindly reach out to us soon as we would not be able to void this charge after 24 hours.
Thanks & Regards,
Appearance of the "PayPal" scam email (GIF):
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:
- What is "PayPal Email Phishing Scam"?
- STEP 1. Manual removal of possible malware infections.
- STEP 2. Check if your computer is clean.
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:
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:
Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:
Restart 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.
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.
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.
Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":
Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.
In 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.
Check 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".
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.
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.