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

Also Known As: possible malware infections
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 ********,

 

Fyi
Payment completed on behalf of my boss. Please confirm receipt

 

Regards
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)

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.

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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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