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Avoid getting scammed by fake "Australia Post" emails

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is "Australia Post email scam"?

"Australia Post email scam" refers to a spam campaign. The letters sent through this campaign are disguised as messages relating to unpaid customs duties from "Australia Post". It must be emphasized that these emails are in no way associated with the legitimate postal service enterprise. This spam campaign aims to trick recipients into disclosing sensitive information and/or paying bogus fees.

Australia Post email spam campaign

"Australia Post email scam" in detail

The fake "Australia Post" emails inform that the delivery cost must be paid for a package to be released. Additionally, the letters contain extensive details about the Australia Post enterprise, which provides postal services in Australia.

The goal of such deceptive letters is to gather vulnerable information through email replies and phishing websites. Data of interest includes: personally identifiable details (e.g., names, addresses, contact information, etc.), online account usernames/passwords, finance-related data (e.g., banking account and credit card numbers, etc.), and so on. The collected information can be sold to third-parties and/or used to create personalized scams.

Furthermore, hijacked accounts can be used to steal the owner's identity and ask contacts for loans, distribute malware, make fraudulent monetary transactions or online purchases. What is more, scams like the "Australia Post" emails can ask victims to make fake payments. Scammers often request users to pay the fees via dubious payment gateways, which record information entered into them.

In summary, by trusting the "Australia Post" scam emails, users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name Australia Post Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Emails claim that a delivery fee must be paid.
Disguise Scam emails are disguised as letters from Australia Post
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

"Instagram Email Scam", "Aramex Email Scam", "Storage Server Failure", "Gas Sensing Solutions (GSS) Email Scam", "Reminder About Your Dirty Deeds!", "ICS (International Card Services) Email Scam" - are some examples of spam campaigns.

Deceptive emails are not used exclusively for phishing/scams, they are also employed to proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.). Due to the prevalence of spam mail, it is highly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails and messages.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Malware is spread via virulent files attached to and/or linked inside spam emails. These files can be in various formats, e.g., archives, executables, PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, etc. When they are opened - the infection chain is jumpstarted.

For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands. This process begins when a document is opened in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. Later versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents it; instead, users can manually enable macros (i.e., editing/content).

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and irrelevant emails must not be opened, especially any attachments or links found in them. It is important to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010.

Aside from spam mail, malware is proliferated via dubious download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation tools ("cracks"), and fake updates. Therefore, it is advised to download from official/verified sources and activate/update products with tools provided by genuine developers.

It is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. This software has to be used to perform 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 "Australia Post" scam email letter:

Subject: Your package could not be delivered on 13.09.2021 because no customs duties were paid (12.99 AUD)

 

Dear customer

 

Your package could not be delivered on 13.09.2021 because no customs duties were paid (12.99 AUD).

 

As a reminder, Australia Post informs you that your shipment AU1950317-0935 is still awaiting instruction from you. Follow the instructions :

 

Dispatch Date: 14.09.2021 / 15.09.2021
Reference : AU1950317-0935
Beneficiaries : Australia Post
Amount to be paid : 12.99 AUD

 

Please confirm the payment of the delivery costs (12.99 AUD) and the shipment of the package

 

    To confirm the shipment of a package, click here

 

We thank you for recording it and wish you continued convenient sending with a waybill online.

 

Best regards.

 

Australia’s postal market is competitive for most services but Australia Post has an exclusive right to deliver reserved letters – generally letters less than 250 grams. We administer the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 and the Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Regulations 2019.
The Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 requires Australia Post to meet community service obligations, including performance standards defined in the regulations. Those performance standards include requirements about frequency, accuracy and speed of mail delivery, street posting boxes and retail outlets.
In cooperation with the Department of Finance, we also provide oversight of Australia Post as a government business enterprise, wholly owned by the Australian Government. The Australia Post Board and management are responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation. Australia Post is required by law to operate commercially and does not receive funding from the government.
With many Australians staying and working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia Post has experienced a significant surge in demand for parcel deliveries. To meet the unprecedented parcels demand, Australia Post has established at least 18 new or recommissioned parcel processing facilities, chartered additional freighter flights, is operating some of its processing facilities 24/7 and has employed hundreds of temporary staff.

Appearance of the "Australia Posy" scam email (GIF):

Australia Post scam email appearance (GIF)

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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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