What is "Windows Defender email scam"?
"Windows Defender email scam" refers to spam emails disguised as messages regarding a contract renewal for "Windows Defender". It must be emphasized that these letters are fake and in no way associated with the Microsoft Defender Antivirus (formerly named Windows Defender) or its developers - the Microsoft Corporation.
"Windows Defender" email scam overview
The fake "Windows Defender" email that we inspected informs the recipient that their "Windows Defender" one-year trial has expired. The annual maintenance contract has been renewed, and 399.99 USD will be charged from the recipient's bank account within 24 hours. The spam email instructs to call the provided telephone number - to cancel the charge. As mentioned in the introduction, this email is fraudulent and not associated with Microsoft.
It likely operates as a refund scam, but due to the scammers' electing to incorporate the Microsoft Defender Antivirus - it may also include the traits of technical support scams.
In refund scams, victims are lured into calling fake helplines to cancel payments or get refunds. The cyber criminals claim that they need to remotely access the user's device to aid with the refund. The scammers typically use legitimate remote access software for this purpose (e.g., TeamViewer, UltraViewer, AnyDesk, etc.).
Once connected, the victim is asked to sign into their online bank account. The criminals then use the remote access program's feature to darken the victim's screen and ask them to type the refund amount. Regardless of whether it is typed in correctly, the scammers claim that it is not and beg the user to return the excess.
This deception is pulled off by either moving funds between victims' accounts (e.g., from savings to checking) or by editing the website's HTML to display a different number - while the user sees a dark screen on their end. Both of these methods do not actually affect the funds; in fact, the latter only alters what a webpage displays - it bears absolutely no effect on the bank account.
When users are convinced that they have received far more than the fake refund, the scammers request the funds to be returned using difficult-to-trace methods (e.g., cryptocurrency, hidden in innocuous-looking packages and shipped, gift cards, pre-paid vouchers, etc.). Since the refund/transaction was fake to begin with, by agreeing to return the "excess" - victims send their own money to the cyber criminals.
Due these spam emails being disguised as messages from Microsoft, it is likely that after connecting to the victim's device - the scammers might also attempt a tech support scam. In these schemes, the criminals pretend to be "expert/certified" "technicians" or "support" and perform fake system scans and diagnostics, which detect nonexistent system infections, "connected hackers", etc.
The scammers can cause a wide variety of damage while connected to a victim's device, e.g., remove genuine security tools, install fake anti-viruses (which require purchase), extract sensitive data, or infect the system with actual malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.).
The cyber criminals claim that the device is in danger and so offer bogus services and products to resolve the issues. The "services" of tech support scammers are exorbitantly priced, and successfully scammed victims are often targeted repeatedly.
Phishing scams are often a component of such schemes. Cyber criminals seek to acquire highly sensitive data, e.g., log-in credentials (of online banking, money transferring, e-commerce, email, social networking, and other accounts), personally identifiable details (names, addresses, occupations, etc.), and finance-related data (bank account details, credit card numbers, etc.).
Scammers can trick victims into revealing the information over the phone, typing it while it is supposedly "invisible", providing it to phishing websites or files, or they can acquire the data through the use of malware.
To summarize, by trusting a spam email like this "Windows Defender" letter - users can experience system infections, data loss, hardware damage, severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and identity theft.
If you have allowed criminals to remote access your device, you must disconnect it from the Internet. Afterward, remove the remote access program that the scammers used (as they may not need your consent to reconnect). And lastly, perform a full system scan with a reputable anti-virus and use it to remove all detected threats.
If you believe that your account credentials have been exposed - change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support. And if the data at risk is of a different personal nature (e.g., ID card details, passport scans, credit card numbers, etc.) - contact relevant authorities without delay.
|Name||"Windows Defender" spam email|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Windows Defender annual contract has been removed.|
|Disguise||Windows Defender / Microsoft|
|Scammer Phone Number||+1 (877) 796-5828, +1-877-209-1421|
|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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Similar spam campaigns examples
We have analyzed thousands of spam emails; "Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection", "PayPal - Your Order Is Already Processed", and "Norton Order Confirmation" are just a few examples of those similar to this "Windows Defender" campaign.
These letters can vary in text and disguise; they can be presented as messages from various legitimate companies, service providers, organizations, institutions, authorities, and other entities. However, spam emails are not used just to facilitate scams, they are also employed to distribute malware.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
When a virulent file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - malware download/installation chains are initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands.
How to avoid installation of malware?
We strongly recommend being careful with incoming emails, SMSes, DMs/PMs, and other messages. The attachments and links found in suspicious/irrelevant mail must not be opened since that can result in a system infection. It is essential to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010, as they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro command execution.
Since malware is not proliferated exclusively through spam mail, we also advise downloading only from official and trustworthy sources. Additionally, software must be activated and updated using legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third-party updaters may contain malicious programs.
Another recommendation is to be vigilant when browsing since fraudulent and malicious content typically appears ordinary and harmless.
It is paramount to have a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security software must be used to run 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 this "Windows Defender" spam email letter:
Upcoming contract charge:
Yes, it's time for another year of safe hand secure computing experience. Your trial for the year has been expired and we are overwhelmed to know that you are happy with our service. Your annual maintenance contract with us is set to renew on 28th of September 2022. $399.99 has been deducted from your account on 28th September 2022. Charge will show up on your account in the next 24 hours.
To cancel your contract call us on +1 (877) 796-5828
Please note: This is from an e-mail address that cannot receive incoming e-mail. If you had same issue, you can contact us. +1 (877) 796-5828
Details Of Charge
Sold by: Windows Corporation
Windows Defender Microsoft
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:
- What is "Windows Defender" spam email?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious 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.
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.
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:
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; thousands of users receive identical messages.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by this spam email, what should I do?
If you have provided account credentials - change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support. And if you've disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact the appropriate authorities.
I have allowed cyber criminals to remotely access my computer, what should I do?
If you have allowed scammers to access your device remotely - disconnect it from the Internet. Once disconnected, remove the remote access software that the cyber criminals used (e.g., TeamViewer, UltraViewer, AnyDesk, etc.). Lastly, use an anti-virus to perform a full system scan and to remove all detected threats.
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
No, merely opening an email will not initiate any malware download/installation chains. These processes are triggered when the attachments or links found in spam mail are opened/clicked.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes - your system was infected. However, if it was a document (.pdf, .xls, .doc, etc.), you might have avoided an infection since these formats may require additional actions (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 nearly all known malware infections. However, it is crucial to run a complete system scan - as high-end malicious programs tend to hide deep within systems.