Do not open fake Craigslist emails (misspelled as "Craiglist")

Also Known As: Qakbot malware
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What is "Craiglist email virus"?

"Craiglist email virus" refers to an email spam campaign designed to proliferate malware. These scam emails supposedly relate to a flagged "Craiglist" advertisement. The aim of this spam mail is to infect recipients' systems with Qakbot malware.

It must be emphasized that the letters in question are in no way associated with the genuine Craigslist classified advertisements website (which is misspelled as "Craiglist" in the emails).

Craiglist malware-spreading email spam campaign

"Craiglist" malware-proliferating spam campaign overview

The fake "Craiglist" emails state that recipients' ads posted on the platform have been flagged. They are urged to correct this by reading the attached publication policy and filling in the form. Should recipients take no action, their "Craiglist" accounts will be deleted, and it will be impossible to register new ones.

When the scam emails' attachment is opened - it triggers Qakbot trojan's infection chain. The virulent Microsoft Office document contains deceptive instructions intended to trick users into enabling macro commands (i.e., editing/content). If macros are enabled - Qakbot's download/installation will be initiated.

Qakbot malware functionalities

Qakbot is a trojan that operates by stealing information from infected devices. Data of interest includes: typed keystrokes (obtained via keylogging abilities), browsing and search engine histories, browser cookies, and account log-in credentials (i.e., IDs, email addresses, usernames, and passwords).

With this information in their possession - cyber criminals can sell it, steal the victim's identity, and obtain control over their online accounts. For example, social accounts (e.g., emails, messengers, etc.) can be used to ask for loans or to distribute malware - under the guise of the genuine owner. Finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, e-commerce, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and online purchases.

In summary, by trusting the "Craiglist" scam emails, users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft. If it is suspected that Qakbot has infiltrated the system - an anti-virus must be used to eliminate it immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name Qakbot malware
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Hoax Scam emails claim that the recipients' "Craiglist" accounts will be deactivated due to flagged ads, unless they complete the attached form.
Disguise Scam emails are disguised as notifications from Craigslist (misspelled in the letters as "Craiglist").
Attachment(s) form_2056136844_10252021.xls (filename may vary)
Symptoms Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Payload Qakbot
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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Spam campaigns in general

"Cosco Shipping Bank Email Virus", "Google Pay Email Virus", "SAM Trading Group Email Virus", and "ANSR Email Virus" are some examples of malware-proliferating spam campaigns.

Deceptive mail is not used exclusively to spread malicious software, it is also employed to facilitate phishing and other scams. Due to how widespread spam mail is, exercising caution with incoming emails and messages is strongly recommended.

How did "Craiglist email virus" infect my computer?

Spam emails infect systems through infectious files attached to or linked inside them. These files can be in various formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives, executables, JavaScript, etc. When opened - the infection chain is triggered.

For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. This process occurs when a document is opened in pre-2010 Microsoft Office versions. Later versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents this process; instead, users can manually enable macros (i.e., editing/content). Note that virulent documents often attempt to lure users into allowing macro commands.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Suspect and irrelevant emails should not be opened. Furthermore, the attachments and links found in them - must never be opened, as they can cause infections. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 as well.

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

What is more, it is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus installed and updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and to remove threats. If you've already opened "Craiglist email virus" attachment, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "Craiglist" scam email letter:

Subject: Craiglist


Your ad has been flagged!


Immediate correction and form filling required!


A detailed description of the N12 publication policy is available on this form.


If your browser does not support interactive buttons, then follow the link by typing
ABUSE.N12-CRAIGLIST.ORG in the address bar.


In case of inactivity your account will be deleted


and all further attempts to register new accounts will be rejected.


Sorry for the inconvenience.


Thank you for using CL.



Original craiglist post:
About craiglist mail:
Please flag unwanted messages (spam, scam, other):

Malicious attachment distributed via "Craiglist" spam campaign ("form_2056136844_10252021.xls" filename):

Malicious attachment distributed through Craiglist spam campaign (form_2056136844_10252021.xls)

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:

Malware process running in the Task Manager

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:

Autoruns application appearance

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.

Run Windows 7 or Windows XP in 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.

Run Windows 8 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.

Run Windows 10 in 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 archive and run Autoruns.exe application

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.

Refresh Autoruns application results

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".

Delete malware in Autoruns

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.

Search for malware and delete 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why did I receive this email?

Spam emails are sent by the thousand in mass-scale operations. Hence, large numbers of users receive the same email.

I have read the "Craiglist" spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?

No, merely opening a spam email will not initiate malware download/installation. Infection chains are jumpstarted when the email attachments or the links presented in them - are opened/clicked.

I have downloaded and opened the file attached to the "Craiglist" spam email, is my computer infected?

Whether your system was infected - depends on the file's format. At the time of research, "Craiglist" emails contained a malicious Microsoft Office document. If you have opened this file (in Microsoft Office versions released after 2010) but not enabled its macro commands (i.e., editing/content), the infection process was not initiated. However, if you have enabled the macros - then most likely, yes - your system has been infected.

My computer is infected with Qakbot malware, should I format my storage device to get rid of it?

No, Qakbot can be eliminated from the system without resorting to formatting.

What are the biggest issues that Qakbot malware can cause?

What problems a malicious program can cause - depends on its abilities and the cyber criminals' modus operandi. Qakbot primarily steals information from infected systems. Therefore, if infiltrated into a device, this malware can cause serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

What is the purpose of Qakbot malware?

Malware usually has but one goal - to generate profit at victims' expense. Yet other reasons might be: the cyber criminals' amusement, political or geopolitical motivations, targeting specific individuals (personal reasons), disrupting certain processes (e.g., websites, services, etc.), and others.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating nearly all known malware infections. It is noteworthy that sophisticated malicious software typically hides deep within systems. Therefore, it is paramount to perform a full system scan and remove the detected threats.

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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.

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.

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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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