Avoid getting scammed by World Health Organization Beneficiary phishing email

Also Known As: World Health Organization Beneficiary phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "World Health Organization Beneficiary"?

Following our inspection of the "World Health Organization Beneficiary" email, we determined that it is spam that operates as a phishing scam.

These fake letters attempt to extract recipients' personally identifiable details - by claiming that this information must be provided to receive a huge financial grant. These spam emails are disguised as letters from the World Health Organization (WHO).

World Health Organization Beneficiary email spam campaign

"World Health Organization Beneficiary" email scam overview

The email with the subject "World Health Organization (WHO) $1,200,000. USD Grants" (may vary) states that during the last two years, WHO has been randomly selecting individuals to receive exorbitant grants. Supposedly, this is a relief effort to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter claims that the recipient is amongst those selected to receive a grant worth 1,200,000 US dollars. The sum will be transferred immediately after the recipient provides their personal information.

As mentioned in the introduction, these emails are fake and in no way associated with the World Health Organization.

The spam letters target the following sensitive information: full name, address, birth date, marital status, occupations/businesses, additional email addresses, copy of the passport, ID card, and/or driver's license. With this information in their possession, the cyber criminals can cause a wide variety of serious problems. For example, the criminals can use this data to steal the victim's identity.

Additionally, email scams like "World Health Organization Beneficiary" often request victims to make various payments, e.g., fake transaction fees or taxes. Cyber criminals can ask for the transactions to be made via dubious payment gateways that operate as phishing scams targeting finance-related data.

The exposed information (e.g., banking account details, credit card numbers, online bank log-in credentials, etc.) can then be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases.

To summarize, by trusting the "World Health Organization Beneficiary" - users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

Threat Summary:
Name World Health Organization Beneficiary phishing email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient has been selected to receive a massive financial grant.
Disguise World Health Organization (WHO) grant program.
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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Phishing spam campaign examples

We have countless spam emails; "Donation Grant For You", "336 Parts B.V.", "Salvation Army email scam", and "Email Shutdown In Progress" are just some examples of the phishing spam we have analyzed recently.

In addition to various scams, these letters are also used to proliferate trojans, ransomware, and other malware. The emails are typically presented as "urgent", "important", and similar; they can even be disguised as messages from legitimate entities (e.g., organizations, institutions, companies, service providers, etc.).

Due to how widespread spam mail is, we highly recommend exercising caution with incoming emails and messages.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam emails can have malicious files attached to or linked inside them. These files can be executables (.exe, .run, etc.), archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so forth. Malware download/installation is triggered when such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We advise against opening the attachments and links presented in suspicious/irrelevant emails and messages - as that can lead to a system infection. Additionally, it is important to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 - since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro execution.

However, malware is not proliferated exclusively via spam mail. Therefore, we also recommend downloading from official/trustworthy sources and activating/updating programs with tools provided by legitimate developers (as illegal activation tools "cracks" and fake updates can contain malware).

It is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus installed and updated. Security software must be used to perform regular system scans and to remove threats and issues. 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 "World Health Organization Beneficiary" scam email letter:

Subject: World Health Organization (WHO)  $1,200,000. USD Grants

Hello Grant Beneficiary,

My name is Mr. Anthony Ray Chavis from North Carolina USA but currently working with the World Health Organization (WHO) London Branch.

For over two years till now the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been selecting individuals online randomly with grants of  One Million Two Hundred Thousand United States Dollars ($1,200,000. USD). This is to boast business of individuals that has been affected since the outbreak of Covid-19.
This is done monthly and you are lucky to be among other few selected people who will receive $1,200,000. USD grants each this month.

I have been assigned to supervise this month's grant. Your grant is currently with a bank who works with us and I will direct you to the bank to receive your grant immediately you send me your information as outlined below for validation and record purposes.

1. Full Names.
2. Current address
3. Date Of Birth.
4. Marital Status.
5. Current Occupation/Nature of your business.
6. Alternative Email Address.
7. Scan Copy Of your Driver's License or Passport.

Mr. Anthony Ray Chavis

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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 not personal. Cyber criminals send these letters in massive operations - therefore, thousands of users receive identical ones.

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

If you have disclosed personally identifiable or other private data (e.g., ID card details, passport scans, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact the corresponding authorities. And if you provided log-in credentials - change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay.

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

No, merely reading a spam email will not initiate any system infection chains. Malware download/installation processes are jumpstarted when the attachments or links present in this mail are opened.

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

If it was an executable - most likely, yes - your system was infected. However, document formats (.doc, .xls, etc.) may require additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands) to begin downloading/installing malicious software.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate practically all known malware infections. It is noteworthy that sophisticated malicious programs tend to hide deep within systems. Therefore, running a complete system scan is essential.

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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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