Avoid getting scammed by fake "Apple Invoice" emails and text messages

Also Known As: "Apple Invoice" spam email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Apple Invoice"?

After inspecting the "Apple Invoice" email, we determined that it is spam mail. These scam emails are presented as invoices for Apple products that the recipients have supposedly purchased. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that we discovered spam text messages (SMSes) used to promote this "Apple Invoice" scam.

It must be emphasized that these emails and text messages are fake, and they are in no way associated with the actual Apple Inc.

Apple Invoice email spam campaign

"Apple Invoice" scam overview

The "Apple Invoice" spam email we inspected - thanks the recipient for shopping with Apple. The scam invoice identifies the purchase as "Apple Earbuds 2 pro" for 249.99 USD. This nonexistent order was allegedly successfully paid for and will be delivered within two days. If the purchase was made without the authorization of the recipient or if they have any questions, the letter instructs to call the listed telephone number.

This scheme, both promoted via email and SMS - aims to trick victims into calling a fake helpline. It likely operates as a refund scam. The scammers that use this model seek to gain remote access to users' devices.

After being connected to the victim's computer with the use of remote access software (e.g., TeamViewer, UltraViewer, AnyDesk, etc.), the cyber criminals request them to log into their online banking accounts. Afterward, the scammers typically use the remote access program's functionality to darken the victim's screen.

The user is then asked to enter the refund amount (e.g., 249.99 USD). The criminals claim that a mistake has been made and a significantly larger sum was transferred. This deceit is pulled off while the screen is darkened, and the scammers either move funds in-between the victim's accounts (e.g., from saving to checking) or by editing the website's HTML code.

Hence, when the screen becomes visible, the user is confronted with an entirely different amount in their account. In all actuality, neither of the techniques used by scammers affects the bank account. If the scam was pulled off by editing the site's HTML - then it only altered the webpage's appearance and had absolutely no bearing on the banking account; hence, when the page is refreshed, the reloaded view displays the reality.

When the cyber criminals convince the victim that they have been sent too much money, they beg for the "excess" to be returned - else the "Apple support"/"expert technician"/etc. (scammer) will lose their job.

The nonexistent funds are to be returned using difficult-to-trace techniques, e.g., hidden in innocent-looking packages and shipped or paid in cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, gift cards, etc. These "payment" methods are chosen because it is unlikely that the criminals could be traced through them, and there are practically no chances of victims retrieving their funds.

It must be emphasized that by falling victim to a refund scam, users will lose their own money since the entire refund process was fake.

It is pertinent to mention that spam like "Apple Invoice" may operate as a phishing scam as well. The goal of these scams is to lure victims into revealing private data, e.g., personally identifiable details, account log-in credentials (usernames/passwords), or finance-related information (banking account details, credit card numbers, etc.).

Cyber criminals can extract this data by requesting victims to give it over the phone, type it into files or websites, or the information is stealthily obtained through malware.

To summarize, by trusting scams like "Apple Invoice" - users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

If you have allowed cyber criminals to access your device remotely, you must disconnect it from the Internet and then remove the remote access software they used. Afterward, use an anti-virus to run a full system scan and remove all detected threats.

And if you have disclosed sensitive information such as log-in credentials - change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay. Alternatively, if the exposed data was of a different personal nature (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - immediately contact the appropriate authorities.

Threat Summary:
Name "Apple Invoice" spam email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient has successfully purchased an Apple product.
Disguise Apple Inc.
Scammer Phone Numbers +1-888-230-7230; (408) 724-4808 (spam SMS)
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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Similar spam campaign examples

We have analyzed thousands of spam emails; "Windows Defender email scam", "PayPal - Your Order Is Already Processed", and "Your Order Is Processed" are just a few examples of ones used for refund scams.

These letters can wear a wide variety of disguises, e.g., notifications/messages/invoices from legitimate companies, service providers, organizations, authorities, or other entities. Aside from various scams, this mail is used to proliferate malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.).

Due to how widespread spam mail is - we strongly recommend being careful with incoming emails, SMSes, PMs/DMs, and other messages.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam mail can contain malicious files as attachments or download links. These files can be archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, and so on.

When a virulent file is executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection process is initiated. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect devices by executing malicious macro commands.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We highly recommend being vigilant with incoming emails, SMSes, PMs/DMs, and other messages. The attachments and links present in suspect/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be malicious and cause system infections. It is essential to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro execution.

However, malware is not distributed only through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise always downloading from official and trustworthy sources. Another recommendation is to activate and update programs using legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third-party updaters can contain malware.

It is just as important to be cautious when browsing since fake and malicious content usually appears legitimate and harmless.

It is paramount to have a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security software must be used to perform 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.

Text presented in the "Apple Invoice" spam email letter:

# 16472900023

APPLE INC. : ##00032879-ADJP-03
All Rights Reserved 2022 Payment Method: Apple Pay

Toll Free Number: Seller PO Number: #0001-789345-2231
+1-888-230-7230 Apple Inc. Balance Due: $249.99

Thank You For Shopping With Apple Quantity Rate Amount

Apple Earbuds 2 pro 1 $249.99 $249.99
Apple Toll-free customer care +1-888-230-7230 1 $0.00 $0.00
0 $0.00 $0.00

Subtotal: $249.99
Tax (0%): $0.00
Total: $249.99

Dear Customer::
Thank You foor choosing Apple.
Your order will be delivered with in 2 days.
we have successfully received your payment and it will reflect on your Apple Pay statement after delivery of your product.

Apple Customer Care::
If you have any question related to your purchase or if you did not made this purchase Kindly reach us immediately at +1-888-230-7230

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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?

Cyber criminals distribute spam emails by the thousand with the hopes that at least some of the recipients will fall for their scams. This mail is not personal.

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

If you have provided account credentials - immediately 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.) - contact the corresponding authorities without delay.

I have allowed cyber criminals to remotely access my computer, what should I do?

If you have allowed cyber criminals to remotely access your device - you must first disconnect it from the Internet. Once disconnected, uninstall the remote access program that the cyber criminals used (e.g., TeamViewer, UltraViewer, AnyDesk, etc.). Lastly, perform a complete system scan and remove all detected threats.

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

No, merely opening a spam email will not infect your device. Malware download/installation chains are initiated 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 the file was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes. However, you might have avoided infecting your device if it was a document (.doc, .pdf, .xls, 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 can detect and eliminate most of the known malware infections. It must be stressed that performing a full system scan is essential - since sophisticated malicious software tends to 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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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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