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Do not trust fake "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" emails

Also Known As: Summon To Court For Pedophilia spam email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Summon To Court For Pedophilia"?

"Summon To Court For Pedophilia" refers to scam emails disguised as court summons issued by governmental bodies. These letters claim that the recipient is accused of activities relating to pedophilia. We have inspected two variants of these spam emails, one in French and the other in Lithuanian, English, Dutch; however, different versions are likely.

This spam mail can have relatively sophisticated appearances, e.g., include emblems, seals, and other imagery associated with specific governmental institutions. Additionally, the letters may use the names of actual officials in the positions of Director General of Police, Commissioner of Police, etc.

However, it must be emphasized that the "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" emails are fake. Furthermore, the French Interior Ministry has issued warnings against trusting these letters.

Summon To Court For Pedophilia email spam campaign

"Summon To Court For Pedophilia" email scam overview

We analyzed two variants of the "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" emails, one's subject/title was "Fwd_ N°5326EU-FR2022 PROCÈS VOUS CONCERNANT..eml" while the other's "šaukimas į teismą Nr. 9941/2022" (note, subjects/titles may differ). The text in these versions is thematically identical.

The letters present the recipient with summons to court. The most important information from the mire of legalese is that the recipient is accused of one or a combination of the following: pedophilia, sex trafficking, child pornography, cyber ​​pornography, exhibitionism, etc.

The fake emails then detail the potential repercussions, e.g., inclusion into the national registry of sex offenders, fines, arrest, incarceration, etc. The letters state that the recipient is to provide justifications within 72 hours.

As mentioned in the introduction, the "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" emails are not genuine. Therefore, all the claims made by them are false, and the recipients have not been accused of any criminal activity.

The initial aim of this mail is to trick recipients into initiating communication with the scammers. Once contact is established, the cyber criminals may demand that the recipients provide sensitive information (e.g., personally identifiable details, ID card data, passport scans, banking account log-in credentials, credit card numbers, etc.), pay "fines" (transfer money to the scammers under false pretenses), or perform other actions.

It must be stressed that these emails pose no threat to recipients, and as such - they must be ignored. If vulnerable information has already been disclosed, we strongly advise changing the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and informing their official support (if the revealed data were log-in credentials), and/or contacting actual authorities (if the information was of a personal, financial, or similar nature).

Threat Summary:
Name Summon To Court For Pedophilia spam email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient is accused of engaging in criminal activity (e.g., pedophilia, child pornography, etc.) and summoned to court.
Disguise Various governmental bodies related to law enforcement.
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.
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Spam campaign examples

We have analyzed thousands of spam emails; "FedEx Corporation email virus", "Meeting Reminder email scam", "I Regret To Inform You About Some Sad News For You email scam", "Unicaja Banco email scam", "SIDDHIVINAYAK email virus" - are some examples of our latest finds.

This mail is usually presented as "official", "urgent", "priority", and similar; these letters are often disguised as messages from legitimate institutions, authorities, governmental bodies, organizations, companies, services providers, and other entities.

The scam models they use can range from notifications concerning mail that has failed to reach the inbox to claims that "hackers" have obtained sexually explicit videos of the recipient. Spam letters are primarily used for phishing and malware proliferation.

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

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam emails proliferate malware by distributing infectious files. The files are spread in the form of attachments or download links. These files can be archives, executables, Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, etc.

When such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We advise against opening the attachments and links present in suspicious/irrelevant emails and messages - since that may lead to a system infection. Additionally, we recommend using Microsoft Office versions released after 2010, as they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros.

However, malware is not distributed exclusively through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise downloading only from official/verified sources and activating/updating software with legitimate functions/tools (since illegal activation tools ["cracks"] and fake updates may contain malware).

We must stress the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security programs must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected 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.

Appearance of the French variant of the "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" spam email (GIF):

Summon To Court For Pedophilia scam email appearance - French version (GIF)

Text presented in this email variant:

Subject: Fwd_ N°5326EU-FR2022 PROCÈS VOUS CONCERNANT..eml


Bonjour


Vous trouverez en pièces jointes
Bien cordialement
Mr Christian RODRIGUEZ
Directeur général de la gendarmerie nationale
TEL:+33 6 44 66 00 73


MINISTÈRE de la JUSTICE


RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE


Gendarmerie
nationale
MAIL :gendarmerienationale545@gmail.com


CONVOCATION EN JUSTICE


Pou r les nécessités d'une enquête judiciaire (Article 390-1 du Code de procédure pénale)


À votre attention

 

À la demande de Madame. Catherine DE BOLLE commissaire générale de la police fédérale, élue au poste de Directrice d'Europol " Brigade de protection des mineurs (BPM) " nous vous adressons cette convocation. La COPJ ou convocation par officier de police judiciaire est prévue par l'article 390-1 du Code de Procédure Pénale. Elle vaut citation devant le Tribunal et est décidée par le Procureur de la République. En application des dispositions de l'article 372 du code pénal énonce : " Tout attentat à la pudeur commis sans violences ni menaces sur la personne ou à l'aide de la personne d'un enfant de l'un ou de l'autre sexe, âgé de moins de 16 ans accomplis, sera puni de la réclusion. L'article 227-23 du Code pénal dispose : « Le fait, en vue de sa diffusion, de fixer. d'enregistrer ou de transmettre l'image ou la représentation d'un mineur lorsque cette image ou cette représentation présente un caractère pornographique est puni de cinq ans d'emprisonnement et de 75 000 Euros d'amende. Nous engageons à votre encontre, des poursuites judiciaires peu après une saisie informatique de la Cyber-infiltration pour :


- Pédopornographie
- Pédophilie
- Exhibitionnisme
- Cyber pornographie
- Trafic sexuel


Pour votre information. la loi 390-1 du Code de procédure pénale de mars 2007 aggrave les peines lorsque les propositions. les agressions sexuelles ou les viols ont pu être commis en recourant à internet. Vous avez commis l'infraction après avoir été ciblé sur internet (site d'annonce), visualisation de vidéo à caractère pédopornographique . des photos/vidéos dénudées de mineur ont été enregistrées par notre cyber-gendarme et constituent les preuves de vos infractions.
Dans un souci de confidentialité nous vous adressons cet e-mail. vous êtes prié de vous faire entendre par mail en écrivant vos justifications pour qu'elles soient mises en examen et vérifiées afin d'évaluer les sanctions : cela dans un délai strict de 72 heures. Passé ce délai. nous nous verrons dans l'obligation de transmettre notre rapport à Mme Maryvonne CAILLIBOTTE. Procureur de la République de Versailles pour établir un mandat d'arrêt à votre encontre et nous procéderons à votre arrestation immédiate par la gendarmerie la plus proche de votre Lieu de résidence et vous serez fiché au registre national des délinquants sexuels. Dans ce cas. votre dossier sera également transmis aux associations de lutte contre la pédophilie et aux medias pour publication de personne fiché au RN DS.


Cordialement,


Mr. Christian RODRIGUEZ,
Directeur général de la Gendarmerie Nationale
MAIL :gendarmerienationale545@gmail.com
----
DIRECTION CENTRALE DE LA GENDARMERIE
BRIGADE DE PROTECTION DES MINEURS
Adresse : 4 rue Claude-Bernard 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux

Appearance of the Lithuanian variant of the "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" spam email (GIF):

Summon To Court For Pedophilia scam email appearance - Lithuanian version (GIF)

Text presented in this email variant:

Subject: šaukimas į teismą Nr. 9941/2022


Sveiki,


Pridedamas su jumis susijęs šaukimas į teismą.


Nuoširdžiai.


Algirdas MATONIS
Lietuvos Kriminalinės Policijos Biuro Vadovas
Tarptautinio Policijos Bendradarbiavimo Vadovas
Policijos Generalinis Direktoratas


LIETUVOS POLICIJA
VIDAUS REIKALŲ MINISTERIJA
INTERPOL

 

ŠAUKIMAS TEISINGUMUI
Teisminio tyrimo reikmėms


Esu Algirdams MATONIS, Lietuvos kriminalinės policijos biuro vadovas ir Tarptautinio policijos bendradarbiavimo (INTERPOL) vadovas.


Po kibernetinių infiltracijų konfiskavimo, bendradarbiaudamas su Nacionaliniu pornografijos, vaikų pornografijos ir "Cybercast" svetainių vaizdų analizės (CNAIP) ir Tarptautinės kriminalinės policijos organizacijos (INTERPOL) analizės tarnyba, susisiekiau su jumis, kad praneščiau, jog jums taikomas tam tikras teisinis procesas, įskaitant:


* PEDOPORNOGRAFIJA
* PORNOGRAFINĖS SVETAINĖS
* KIBERPORNOGRAFIJA
* PEDOFILIJA
* EKSIBIONIZMAS


Kviečiame būti išklausytam el. paštu šiuo adresu, užrašykite savo pagrindimus, kad juos būtų galima ištirti ir audituoti, kad būtų galima įvertinti nuobaudas; tai per griežtą 72 valandų laikotarpį.


pasibaigus nustatytam terminui, mes persiųsime jūsų bylą prokurorui, atsakingam už jūsų bylą, kad išduotume jūsų arešto orderį.


Todėl būsite užregistruotas kaip seksualinis nusikaltėlis, o jūsų byla taip pat bus nusiųsta žiniasklaidai, kad jūsų veiksmai būtų išplatinti plačiajai visuomenei, kad būtų išvengta pakartotinio nusižengimo ir taip atgrasyti kitus kandidatus nuo šios praktikos.
Dabar jūs esate įspėtas.


DG. Algirdas Matonis

Appearance of the English variant of the "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" spam email:

Summon To Court For Pedophilia email scam English variant

Text presented within:

EUROPOL

OFFICE EUROPEEN DE POLICE (EUROPOL)
Creation 1er juillet 1999
Siege Eisenhoweriaan 73
Drapeau : Pays-Bas La Haye
Coordonnees 52 " 05" 34" N, 4" 16' 53" E
Employes 1065 (decembre 2016)1
Budget annuel € 116.4 millions (2017)2
Ministre responsable Drapeau de la France Jean-Philippe Lecouffe (Directeur Executif Adjoint)
Eisenhoweriaan 73 Drapeau : Pays-Bas La Haye

CYBERCRIME COMPLAINT

I am Mr. Jean-Philippe LECOUFFE, Executive Director of the European Police Office (Europol) and Director of the European Cybercrime Centre. I am contacting you due to a computer seizure of CYBER INFILTRATION, which is authorized in a particular in the fields of:

- CYBERPORNOGRAPHY
- CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
- PEDOPHILIA
- EXHIBITIONISM
- INDECENT ASSAULT, SEXUAL ASSAULT, SEXUAL ABUSE AND TRAFFICKING
- CONSULTATION OF PORNOGRAPHIC SITES INVOLVING MINORS

We have intercepted communications and collected material elements incriminating you.

A formal indictment file for the above-mentioned serious facts has been established.

This is a summons to which you must respond immediately by e-mail:

jean-philippe.lecoufe@etik.com

You are requested to contact us with your justifications in writing so that it can be examined and verified in order to assess the sanctions, within 72 hours of receiving this message.

After this period, we will be obliged to obtain an arrest warrant from the Public Prosecutor with immediate effect and to report you to all European law enforcement agencies. You will also be registered in the European Registered of Sexual Offenders, and your details and photography will be sent to associations and child protection organizations as well as to the mass media (press, radio, television ...) for wide dissemination as provided for by the legislation in force.

You are now warned.
Sincerely.
Jean-Philippe LECOUFFE
MR JEAN-PHILIPPE LECOUFFE DIRECTEUR ADJOINT DEUROPOL OFFICE. CHEF DE BRIGADE DE PROTECTION DES MINEURS

Appearance of the Dutch variant of the "Summon To Court For Pedophilia" spam email:

Summon To Court For Pedophilia email scam Dutch variant

Another Lithuanian variant of this email spam campaign:

Summon To Court For Pedophilia scam email Lithuanian variant

Text presented within:

Subject: Iškvietimas [338291865]

INTERPOL FIEP EUROPOL EC3 European Cybercrime Centre

BENDRADARBIAVIMO SU NACIONALINIA ŽANDARMIJA - TEISS POLICIJA STRUKTROS - COMCYBERGEND - EUROPOL (EC3) - FIEP

Gerb
sipareigojame susitikti su jumis, netrukus po kompiuterio užgrobimo dl kibernetins siskverbimo (pradtos ypač nuo 2009 m.) dl:

- vaik pornografija
- Pedofilija
- Kiberpornografija
- Ekshibicionizmas
- prekyba seksu

Jūsų žiniai Įstatymu leidėjas pareiškė, kad, kai Kodekse numatyti nusikaltimai ir baudžiamieji nusižengimai buvo atliekami naudojantis telekomunikacijų tinklu, numatytos baudžiamosios nuobaudos būtų apsunkintas.

Atlikę tyrimą, patvirtiname, kad padarėte nusikaltimus internetu (svetainėse reklamas, pornografines svetaines, pažinčių svetaines, socialinius tinklus ir kt.), tada per pokalbiai su nepilnamečiais.

Daugelis elementų, įrašytų per kibernetinį įsiskverbimą, yra jūsų pažeidimų įrodymas.

Jūsų prašoma išgirsti el. paštu, parašyti savo pagrindimus, kad jie būtų pateikti peržiūrima ir tikrinama siekiant įvertinti sankcijas; tai per griežtą 48 valandų terminą. Praėjus šiam laikui, turėsime nusiųsti savo pranešimą jūsų regiono Teisingumo Teismui, dėl jūsų arešto orderio sudarymo, dėl kurio nedelsiant bus suimtas arčiausiai jūsų namų esančią žandarmerijos brigadą.
Tada būsite įtrauktas į Nacionalinį seksualinių nusikaltėlių registrą. Tokiu atveju jūsų failas taip pat bus perduotos kovos su pedofilija asociacijoms ir žiniasklaidai paskelbti registruotas asmuo RNDS.

Pone Renat
Policijos generalinis komisaras
Prašome kuo greičiau atsakyti el. pašto adresu : mail@bppjeurol.net

An example of an Italian spam email spreading a PDF document containing claims regarding pedophilia:

Summon To Court For Pedophilia Email Scam (Italian variant - 2022-08-26)

Text presented within:

Subject: Settore Crimine Informatico - Convocazione - (Réf. XVZ-20-22.08.26-IT)


Alla vostra attenzione
 
Contattateci dopo aver letto l'allegato
 
Cap.Giuseppe Caputo

Screenshot of the attached PDF file ("Réf. XVZ-20-22.08.26-IT.pdf"):

PDF document distributed via Summon To Court For Pedophilia scam email (Italian variant - 2022-08-26)

Examples of other PDF attachments (distributed via scam emails) containing messages relating to this scam:

Example 1 (Spanish):

Spanish PDF scam distributed using Summon To Court For Pedophilia spam emails (2022-08-30)

Text presented within:

CONVOCATORIA
Carpetas N°:USA00415215-03/22
Sr. Sra,
A solicitud del Sr. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, Secretario de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos
de América, Jefe del Departamento de Riesgos Mayores “Brigada para la Protección de Menores (BPM)”
le hacemos llegar la presente invitación.
La citación por un agente de la policía judicial está prevista en el artículo 390-1 del Código de
Procedimiento Penal. Vale citación ante el tribunal y lo decide el Ministerio Público.
De conformidad con lo dispuesto en el artículo 372 del Código Penal establece: “El atentado al pudor
cometido sin violencia ni amenazas contra la persona o con ayuda de la persona de un niño de cualquier
sexo, menor de 16 años, será reprimido con pena privativa de libertad”.
El artículo 227-23 del Código Penal dispone: "El hecho, con vistas a su difusión, de fijar, grabar o
transmitir la imagen o representación de un menor cuando esta imagen o esta representación tiene un
carácter pornográfico es castigado con 5 años ' prisión y multa de 100.000 dólares.
Emprenderemos acciones legales contra usted poco después de la incautación de una computadora de
la ciberinfiltración por:
(PORNOGRAFÍA INFANTIL - PEDOFILIA - EXHIBICIONISMO - PORNOGRAFÍA CIBERNÉTICA)
Para su información, la ley 390-1 del Código Procesal Penal de marzo de 2007 aumenta las penas
cuando las proposiciones, agresiones sexuales o violaciones se hayan cometido a través de Internet.
Cometió el delito después de ser atacado en Internet (sitio de publicidad), ver videos de naturaleza
pornográfica infantil, fotos/videos desnudos de menores fueron grabados por nuestro gendarme
cibernético y constituyen prueba de sus delitos.
En aras de la confidencialidad, le enviamos este correo electrónico, por lo que lo invitamos a responder
a la dirección que se indica a continuación, por supuesto, brindándonos sus documentos de respaldo y
las razones que lo llevaron a actuar de esta manera, sus justificaciones para que sean investigados y
verificados para evaluar las sanciones; esto en un plazo estricto de 72 horas.
Contactar : cybermenace.info@gmail.com
Ahora está llamado a responder por su propia voluntad de inmediato para evitar que este asunto se
propague y tome otro giro desagradable a su favor.
Pasado este tiempo, nos veremos obligados a enviar nuestro informe al Ministerio Fiscal para que dicte
orden de detención contra usted y procederemos a su detención inmediata por parte de la policía más
cercana a su lugar de residencia.
Atentamente
Sr. Général-major Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi
Presidente de Interpol, presidente electo de la
Organización Internacional de Policía Criminal
© Copyright INTERPOL 2022. All rightsreserved. www.interpol.int

Example 2 (French):

French PDF scam distributed using Summon To Court For Pedophilia spam emails (2022-08-30)

Text presented within:

923086/FR/UE
Monsieur, Madame, C O N V O C A T I O N
923086/FR
la demande de Madame Catherine CHAMBON, contrôleuse générale, Sous-Directrice de
la Police Nationale, Chef du service "Réseau des référents cybermenaces (RCM)" cette
La COPJ ou convocation par officier de police judiciaire est prévue par l’article 390-1 du Code
de Procédure Pénale. Elle vaut citation devant le tribunal et est décidée par le Procureur de la
République.
En application des dispositions de l’article 372 du code pénal énonce :
" L'article 227-23 du Code pénal dispose : « Le fait, en vue de sa diffusion, de fixer, d'enregistrer
ou de transmettre l'image ou la représentation d'un mineur lorsque cette image ou cette
représentation présente un caractère pornographique est puni de 5 ans d'emprisonnement et
de 75.000 euros d’amende.
hxxps://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/codes/article_lc/LEGIARTI000043409170
Nous engageons à votre encontre, des poursuites judiciaires peu après une saisie
informatique de la Cyber-infiltration pour :
(Pédopornographie - Pédophilie - PEDOCRIMINEL - Cyber pornographie)
Pour votre information, la loi 390-1 du Code de procédure pénale de mars 2007 aggrave les
peines lorsque les propositions, les actes sexuelles ou les actes de pédocriminalité ont pu être
commis en recourant à internet.
Vous avez commis l’infraction après avoir été ciblé sur internet (site d'annonce), visualisation
de vidéo à caractère pédopornographique, des photos/vidéos dénudées ont été enregistrées
par notre cyber-gendarme et constituent les preuves de vos infractions.
Dans un souci de confidentialité nous vous adressons cet e-mail, vous êtes donc invité à
répondre à l'adresse indiqué ci-dessous en nous stipulant bien entendu vos justificatifs et les
raisons qui vous ont poussées à agir de la sorte, vos justifications pour qu'elles soient mises
en examen et vérifiées afin d'évaluer les sanctions ; cela dans un délai strict de 72 heures.
Adresse mail de contact : cybermenace.info@gmail.com
Vous êtes dès à présent convoqué à y répondre de votre gré dans l'immédiat afin d'éviter que
cette affaire s'ébruite et ne prenne une autre tournure désagréable en votre faveur.
Passé ce délai, nous nous verrons dans l'obligation de transmettre notre rapport au Procureur
de la République pour établir un mandat d'arrêt à votre encontre et nous procéderons à votre
arrestation immédiate par la gendarmerie la plus proche de votre lieu de résidence.
Catherine CHAMBON
Commissaire générale
923086/FR/UE
923086/FR/UE
ocation vous est transmise.

Example 3 (Italian):

Italian PDF scam distributed using Summon To Court For Pedophilia spam emails (2022-10-28)

Example 4 (French):

French PDF scam distributed using Summon To Court For Pedophilia spam emails (2022-10-28)

Example 5 (Romanian):

Summon To Court For Pedophilia scam (Romanian variant)

Text presented within:

Text:

POLIȚIA ROMÂNĂ

Stimatedomnule/doamnă
Am luatmăsurilegaleîmpotrivadvs. pentrupornografieinfantilă, pedofilie, pornografiecibernetică,
hărțuiresexualășiultraj contra bunelormoravuri,
înurmainformațiilorobținuteîntimpuluneiperchezițiiinformatice.
Pentruinformare:Legiuitorul a precizatcă se vor aplicapedepse mai aspre
pentruinfracțiunileșicontravențiileprevăzute de codulpenalsăvârșiteprinintermediulrețelei de
telecomunicații.
Înurmainvestigației, amstabilitcăațicomisfaptepenaleprecumdeținerea, vizionarea,
descărcareașitransmiterea de imaginișivideoclipuri de
naturăexhibiționistăsaupornograficăinfantilăînconversațiecupersoanecuvârstasub 16 ani.
De asemenea, am constatat că mesajele erotice, scenele sexuale sau sesiunile de masturbare au fost
transmise prin intermediul sesiunilor webcam și al chat-urilor instantanee.
Trebuie remarcat faptul că conținutul sexual explicit și mesajele de natură sexuală accesibile minorilor sub
16 ani constituie infracțiuni precum diseminarea de conținut sexual, pornografie infantilă, pedofilie, ciberpornografie și hărțuire sexuală, care sunt pedepsite de lege.
Multe dintre informațiile înregistrate prin infiltrare cibernetică reprezintă dovezi semnificative ale
activității dumneavoastră infracționale.
Vă rugăm să ne trimiteți justificarea dvs. prin e-mail în termen de 48 de ore, astfel încât să o putem
examina.
În cazul în care nu primim niciun răspuns după acest termen, vom concluziona că acceptați acuzațiile care
vi se aduc. Prin urmare, vom emite un mandat de arestare și veți fi arestat imediat de cea mai apropiată
unitate de poliție, după care vom trimite un raport instanței din zona dumneavoastră.
În acest caz, vă vom înscrie în registrul național al infractorilor sexuali, iar dosarul dumneavoastră va fi
transmis și organizațiilor antipedofilie și presei.
Vă rugăm să trimiteți răspunsul dumneavoastră la adresa de e-mail a conducerii:
Politiei.ro@gmail.com
DL BENONE-MARIAN MATEI
INSPECTOR GENERAL AL POLIȚIEI ROMÂNE
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
POLIȚIA ROMÂNĂ
STR. MIHAI VODA, NR. 6, SECTOR 5, BUCUREŞTI, ROMÂNIA
INSTITUȚII COLABORATOARE: POLIȚIA ROMÂNĂ–MINISTERUL AFACERILOR
INTERNE– MINISTERUL JUSTIȚIEI– SINDICATUL POLIȚIȘTILOR EUROPENI
(EUROPOL)

Example 6 (French):

French variant of Summon To Court For Pedophilia email scam (2022-11-25)

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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 them in massive operations - therefore, thousands of users receive identical letters.

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

If you've provided log-in credentials - change the passwords of all possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay. And if you have disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact the relevant authorities.

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

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

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

If the opened file was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes - your system was infected. However, you might have avoided an infection if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .pdf, etc.). These formats may require additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands) to start downloading/installing malware.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating practically all known malware infections. However, it must be stressed that running a full system scan is essential - since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems.

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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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