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

Also Known As: Craiglist spam
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 Craiglist spam
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 IT 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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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.

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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