Do not trust the "Payment completed on behalf of my boss" scam email

Also Known As: Payment Completed On Behalf Of My boss spam
Damage level: Medium

What is "Payment completed on behalf of my boss Email Scam"?

"Payment completed on behalf of my boss" is the name of a spam campaign - a mass-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters distributed through this campaign - request recipients to confirm a supposed payment. The goal of these scam letters is to push a phishing file, which is designed to trick users into revealing their email account log-in credentials (i.e., passwords).

Payment completed on behalf of my boss email spam campaign

"Payment completed on behalf of my boss" email in detail

These scam emails (subject/title "Invoice -Bank Advice (PAID)"; may vary) inform recipients that a payment has been completed on behalf of the sender's employer. The letters then request a confirmation to be sent that the payment has been received.

The emails contain an HTML file titled "payment-proof.html" (filename may vary) attached to them. This attachment operates as a phishing file, which is disguised as a Microsoft Office Excel document. Allegedly, users must sign in through the phishing file with their email account - to access the fake document.

The log-in credentials (i.e., email addresses and corresponding passwords) entered into this file are then sent to the scammers behind the spam campaign. Hence, by trying to view the file, users can have their email accounts stolen and experience other serious issues.

If attempts to sign in via the phishing attachment have already been made, it is crucial to immediately change the log-in credentials of all potentially compromised accounts. Additionally, it is recommended to contact the official support of the endangered accounts.

Phishing scams in general

Scammers are particularly interested in emails as they are typically associated with (e.g., used to register) other accounts, platforms, and services. Therefore, through hijacked emails - access/control may be gained over content connected to them.

The aim of all scams is to generate revenue for the individuals/groups behind them. For example, scammers can pretend to be the genuine owners of communication accounts (e.g., emails, social networking, social media, messengers, etc.) and ask the contacts/friends for loans or donations.

Alternatively, these platforms can be used to spread malware by sharing malicious files and links. Finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases.

To summarize, by trusting the "Payment completed on behalf of my boss" scam letters, users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Payment completed on behalf of my boss Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails request confirmation that a payment has been received.
Attachment(s) payment-proof.html (filename may vary)
Detection Names (payment-proof.html) Avast (Other:SNH-gen [Phish]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.HTML.Phishing.ATL), DrWeb (HTML.FishForm.179), Microsoft (PWS:HTML/Phish.SSMA!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
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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Spam campaigns in general

"Uplift International Charity Lottery Program", "DBS Bank email scam", "We noticed a login from a device you don't usually use", and "RingCentral email scam" are some examples of phishing spam campaigns. These letters are usually presented as "official", "urgent", "priority", and similar.

Aside from phishing and other 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 or messages.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns spread malware via infectious files distributed through them. These files can be attached to the emails, or the letters can contain download links of such content. The files can be in a variety of formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, and so forth.

When the files are opened - malware download/installation is initiated. 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.

Newer versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users can manually enable macro commands (i.e., editing/content). However, infectious Microsoft Office documents often contain deceptive messages attempting to trick users into doing so.

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 present in them. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010.

Malware is also distributed via dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and freeware sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Hence, it is crucial to download from official/verified sources and use tools provided by genuine developers to activate/update programs.

To ensure device and user safety, it is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus installed and kept updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and to remove 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 "Payment completed on behalf of my boss" scam email letter:

Subject: Invoice -Bank Advice (PAID)


Dear ********,


Payment completed on behalf of my boss. Please confirm receipt


Denise- Accounts

Screenshot of the phishing file distributed through the "Payment completed on behalf of my boss" spam campaign ("payment-proof.html"):

Payment completed on behalf of my boss scam email phishing attachment (payment-proof.html)

Another example of payment on behalf of-themed spam email:

Payment On Behalf Of George And Godfrey Frost scam email (2023-04-07)

Text presented within:

Subject: PAYMENT


I trust that you are keeping well.
I would like to inform you that we are making payment on behalf of George and Godfrey Frost today.  We will send you confirmation once payment is finalized.

Many Thanks for the opportunity & hope to hear from you soon.
If you have any further questions / comments please do not hesitate to contact me ASAP.

Screenshot of the attached HTML document designed for phishing purposes:

HTML document distributed via Payment On Behalf Of George And Godfrey Frost scam email (2023-04-07)

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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.

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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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