Avoid infecting your device with malware via fake "Declined Debit" emails

Also Known As: Declined Debit malspam
Damage level: Severe

What kind of email is "Declined Debit"?

Our inspection of the "Declined Debit" email revealed that it is malspam (malicious spam). This letter aims to trick recipients into opening a virulent attachment by claiming that it contains a declined payment note from the sender's bank.

Once the file attached to this fake email is opened, it initiates the download/installation process of BluStealer malware.

Declined Debit email malspam campaign

"Declined Debit" email virus overview

The email with the subject "Declined Payment Copy from our Bank" (may vary) states that its attachment is a note from the sender's bank, which details a declined debit payment made by the recipient. The letter requests the recipient to reconfirm their company's banking data so that the payment would be completed.

As indicated in the introduction, this email is fake. Hence, when the attached file is opened - it triggers BluStealer malware's infection process. This malicious program is classified as a stealer - a type of malware designed to obtain vulnerable data.

BluStealer can extract a variety of information from browsers (e.g., browsing history, usernames/passwords, credit card numbers, etc.), and it can download documents from the infected system. This stealer also targets cryptocurrency wallet log-in credentials and has clipper functionalities. Furthermore, BluStealer has keylogging abilities, i.e., it can record keystrokes (keyboard input).

In summary, by trusting the "Declined Debit" email - users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

If you believe that your system is already infected with BluStealer (or other malware) - immediately remove it by using an anti-virus program.

Threat Summary:
Name Declined Debit malspam
Threat Type Trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Fake Claim Recipient's debit payment was declined; email contains proof and requests the banking information to be reconfirmed.
Attachment(s) account.LZH (filename may vary)
Detection Names Avast (Win32:RATX-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.GenericKD.61660255), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of MSIL/GenKryptik.FZOI), Kaspersky (HEUR:Trojan-PSW.MSIL.Agensla.gen), Microsoft (Trojan:MSIL/Tnega.SSS!MTB), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Payload BluStealer
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.
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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Malspam campaign examples

"ACHIVA email virus", "FedEx Corporation email virus", "SIDDHIVINAYAK email virus", and "Chc Energy email virus" are merely some examples of malware-spreading emails.

These letters can have a broad range of disguises and are often presented as messages from legitimate companies, service providers, institutions, authorities, and other entities. Aside from malicious software distribution, spam campaigns are also used to facilitate phishing and various other scams.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam emails proliferate malware by distributing infectious files. They can be attached to the letters, or the emails can contain links to malicious websites (which stealthily download/install such files or trick users into doing so themselves).

Virulent files can be archives (RAR, ZIP, LZH, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), Microsoft Office and PDF documents, JavaScript, and so on. 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 strongly recommend exercising caution with incoming emails and messages. The attachments and links found in dubious/irrelevant mail must not be opened since that can result in a system infection. It is essential to use post-2010 Microsoft Office versions, as they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro command execution.

Since malware is not spread exclusively through spam mail, we also advise downloading only from official and verified channels. Additionally, software must be activated and updated using legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third-party updaters may contain malware.

We must emphasize the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and updated. Security programs must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats. 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 "Declined Debit" email letter:

Subject: Declined Payment Copy from our Bank

Dear Sir,

Please find attached a declined debit note from our bank. Kindly reconfirm your company's bank account information and get back to us as soon as possible so that we can complete your payment.
Thanks and regards,

Chu Yong
Account Executive

Screenshot of VirusTotal detections of the malicious attachment distributed via "Declined Debit" spam campaign ("account.LZH"):

Declined Debit attachment detections on VirusTotal (account.LZH)

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:
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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. They are distributed in massive campaigns - hence, thousands of users receive identical letters.

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

No, opening/reading an email is not enough to trigger malware download/installation processes. Devices are infected when the files attached to or linked in this mail are opened/clicked.

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

Whether an infection occurred might depend on the opened file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes - your system was infected. However, document formats (.doc, .xls, .pdf, etc.) 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 designed to detect and remove threats. It can eliminate practically all known malware infections. However, it must be mentioned that since sophisticated malicious software usually hides deep within systems - performing a full system scan is crucial for its detection.

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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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