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How to recognize scams like a fake email request from Google Foundation

Also Known As: Fake Google Foundation email
Damage level: Medium

What is Google Foundation email scam?

Scammers behind this email attempt to trick recipients into believing that they have been selected to receive a donation from the Google Foundation. The file attached to this email (a PDF document) contains a fraudulent request to provide certain information and contact scammers.

Google Foundation email scam email spam campaign

Google Foundation email scam in detail

The PDF document attached to this email claims that recipients have successfully passed the requirements to receive over one million British pounds. It encourages to contact Google Foundation Board using the provided email addresses for the documentation and processing of the grant.

It also mentions that recipients must provide the address, mobile number, nationality, country, full name, age, sex, and email address to fill out a mandatory verification and funds release form. Scammers are likely using this email scam to trick recipients into providing sensitive information, paying a "transaction", "administration" (or other) fee.

Threat Summary:
Name Google Foundation Email Scam 
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipients have been selected as beneficiaries of over a million GBP
Disguise Letter from Google (Google Foundation)
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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More about Google Foundation email scam

The actual Google Foundation has nothing to do with this scam. Like most similar scams, it is disguised as a legitimate letter (for example, a document attached to an email contains a signature, approved stamp). A couple of examples of similar emails are "LUCKY WINNER OF 1.5 MILLION DOLLARS", "UNITED NATIONS COMPENSATION (COVID19 ASSISTED PROGRAM)".

Usually, scams of this type are used to trick recipients into transferring money to scammers or providing them sensitive information (for example, credit card details, social security numbers). Emails can also be used to distribute malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Malicious emails contain links or attachments. The purpose of such emails is to trick recipients into executing a malicious file (attachment or a file downloaded from the provided URL). The most commonly used files to deliver malware via email are Microsoft Office documents, PDF documents, JavaScript files, executable files, or archive files containing malicious files.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not click website links or open files attached to irrelevant emails sent from suspicious addresses. Remember that malicious emails usually appear as official, urgent letters from legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities.

Download files and software only from legitimate sources/legitimate websites or platforms. Update and activate the installed software with tools provided by its official developer. 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 Google Foundation email scam:

Subject: Attn: Esteemed Google User

Congratulations,
 
Please kindly confirm the email address which was selected to receive a donation from the Google Foundation. For more information, send email to ( gf848497@gmail.com )
 
Attached document to this mail is in PDF for further explanation and funds release form, kindly take note that you are required to download and read it very carefully. Do follow the guided instructions.
 
Sincerely,
Google Foundation
Powered by Google.

Appearance of the attached PDF document (GIF):

google foundation email scam attachment appearance

Text in this document:

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
USA Website: www.google.org
Our Ref: UK/422-2021/GF
Notification: December 2021
 GOOGLE FOUNDATION: RELIEF FUNDS 2021
We wish to congratulate you on this note for being selected as a major customer this year. GOOGLE.ORG’S $100 MILLION
CONTRIBUTION TO COVID-19 RELIEF. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Google.org committed $50 million in grants
focused on the areas where our resources and people can have the most impact: health and science, economic relief and
recovery, and distance learning. Today we’re committing another $50 million, bringing our total contribution up to $100 million.
Additionally
Small business lending
Building on a $200 million investment that Google has committed to provide small businesses access to low-interest loans,
Google.org provided $15 million in cash grants to Opportunity Finance Network, Youth Business International, and Common
Future to support underserved SMBs.
Direct cash assistance
Direct cash transfers are one of the most effective ways to give relief during a crisis.2 through our $100 million commitment; we
tripled our funding to organizations like Give Directly, Family Independence Initiative, and Give India which get cash directly in
the hands of families who need it most. In 2020, Google.org grantees provided emergency cash assistance to 149,000 people,
64% of which were women.
Hence we do believe with your grant, you will continue to be active and patronize Google search engine. Google is now the
biggest search engine Worldwide and in an effort to make sure that it remains the most widely used search engine, we ran an
online e-mail beta test which your email address immerged as beneficiary of One Million Eight Hundred and Forty-Six
Thousand Great British Pounds. We wish to formally inform you that you have successfully passed the requirements, statutory
obligations, verification, validations and satisfactory report Test conducted to all on-line Beneficiaries. A bank draft of Three
Million Eight Hundred and Forty-Six Thousand Great British Pounds will be issued in your name by Google Foundation
Board (UK).
Furthermore your details (e-mail address) falls within our UK representative office as indicated in our data base and your grant
will be released to you from our UK regional office in London United Kingdom.
You are required to Contact Google Foundation Board (UK) below for the documentation and processing of your grant, between
the hours of 8.00am - 7.30pm on Monday to Saturday.
CONTACT:
.....................................................
Name: Mr Caesar Sengupta
Google Foundation Board (UK)
Email: gf848497@gmail.com
Email: gfg12301@gmail.com
.....................................................
Do e-mail the Foundation Board office at once with the Verification and Funds release form below for validation of your grant.
You are also advised to contact our Google Payment Coordinator (Mr Caesar Sengupta via the above email) with the following
details below to avoid unnecessary delay and complications.
MANDATORY VERIFICATION AND FUNDS RELEASE FORM
-Residential Address:
-Tel (Mobile):
-Nationality/Country:
-Full Name:
-Age/Sex:
-E-mail Address:
-Occupation/Position:
-What is your comment on Google Foundation?
-Your preferred mode of grant remittance from the two options below:
1) Courier Delivery of your Certified Grant Bank Draft and other vital documents safely to your address.
2) Via Bank to Bank Transfer of your grant and Fax other vital documents to you.
Google values your right to privacy! Your information is 100% secured and will be used exclusively for the purpose of this grant
only.
Note: This is a FOUNDATION GRANT not a LOTTERY. Google is not into LOTTERY.
For security reasons, you are advised to keep your Google Grant information confidential till your claims are processed and your
money remitted to you. This is part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this
program by some unscrupulous elements. Please be warned!
Congratulations from the Staffs & Members of Google and Google Foundation Board.
Sincerely,
Google Foundation
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
©2021 Google Corporation Powered by Google All right reserved.

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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?

As a rule, scammers behind emails scams send the same letter to all recipients. These emails are not personal.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by this email, what should I do?

If you have provided personal information, (for example, credit card details, social security numbers, ID card information, or other details), contact corresponding authorities as soon as possible. If you have sent money to scammers, contact your bank.

I have sent cryptocurrency to scammers, can I get my money back?

Crypto transactions are virtually untraceable. Therefore, chances that you will retrieve lost cryptocurrency are low.

Can files attached to emails cause computer infections?

Opening an email by itself is completely harmless. However, opening a file or link in an email can lead to computer infections. Especially if a file downloaded from a malicious email is an executable file.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating malware. It is important to mention that high-end malware can hide deep in the operating system. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to scan the system using a full system scan.

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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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