FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

Do not trust fake Instagram emails

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is "Instagram email scam"?

"Instagram email scam" refers to a spam campaign. The letters distributed through this campaign are disguised as notifications from the Instagram social media platform. These fake emails aim to promote various questionable websites.

Instagram email spam campaign

"Instagram email scam" in detail

There are several variants of the "Instagram" scam emails. They notify recipients that they have received a message on Instagram. The message excerpts vary, as do the fake senders. All letter versions lure users into clicking a button/link that will supposedly lead them to their Instagram inbox. Instead, recipients are redirected to an untrustworthy site.

Where they are redirected is determined by users' IP addresses/ geolocations. To elaborate, users may be redirected to legitimate websites; however, they are more likely to be led to harmful pages. Scams of this kind typically endorse a variety of sale-oriented webpages (of either genuine or fraudulent/hazardous products), questionable, deceptive (that run various scams), phishing, and even malicious (malware-proliferating) websites.

In summary, visiting/using such sites can result in system infections, severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and even identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Instagram email scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim recipients have an unread message in their Instagram inboxes.
Disguise Emails are disguised as notifications from Instagram.
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.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Spam campaigns in general

"Aramex Email Scam", "I Know You Are Cheating On Your Partner", "MoneyGram Email Scam", "Account Security Info Update", and "Uplift International Charity Lottery Program" are some examples of spam campaigns.

The emails are usually disguised as "official", "urgent", "important", and similar. Aside from various scams, deceptive letters are also used to proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, 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?

Spam campaigns distribute malware via infectious files attached to or linked inside the scam emails. These files can be in a variety of formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives, executables, JavaScript, etc. Malware download/installation is initiated - when the files are opened.

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 this, and instead - users can manually enable macros (i.e., editing/content).

How to avoid installation of malware?

To avoid infecting the system via spam mail, it is advised against opening suspicious/irrelevant emails - especially any attachments or links found in them. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released before 2010.

Malware is also spread 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 use official/verified download sources and activate/update programs with tools provided by legitimate developers.

Furthermore, it is paramount to have a reputable 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 fake "Instagram" email letter:

Subject: Joanne has sent you a private message...

 

Instagram

 

Hey,
 
How are you? Your... Next

 

View message(s)

 

Note: If the link above doesn't work, please mark this message as Not Spam and open it from within your Inbox.

 

© Instagram. Facebook Inc., 1601 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025

Screenshot of another variant of the "Instagram" scam email:

Instagram scam email alternative variant

Text presented in this variant:

Subject: Michelle just sent you a direct message...

 

Instagram

 

Hello,
 
Do you remember me? Your... Next

 

More information

 

Note: If the link above doesn't work, please mark the email as Not Spam and open it from within your Inbox.

 

© Instagram. Facebook Inc., 1601 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025

Screenshots of websites promoted by the "Instagram" spam campaign:

Instagram email scam promoted website 1 Instagram email scam promoted website 2

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:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

Quick menu:

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.

Click to post a comment

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.

Our malware removal guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.

About PCrisk

PCrisk logo

PCrisk is a cyber security portal, informing Internet users about the latest digital threats. Our content is provided by security experts and professional malware researchers. Read more about us.

Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

QR Code
possible malware infections QR code
Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of possible malware infections on your mobile device.
We Recommend:

Get rid of Windows malware infections today:

▼ REMOVE IT NOW
Download Combo Cleaner

Platform: Windows

Editors' Rating for Combo Cleaner:
Editors ratingOutstanding!

[Back to Top]

To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. 7 days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.