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How to spot fake emails like HR (Human Resources) scam email

Also Known As: HR (Human Resources) phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What is "HR (Human Resources)" scam email?

Our team analyzed this email letter and found that it is a scam email written by scammers who aim to trick recipients into providing sensitive information. Emails of this type are called phishing emails. Scammers behind this particular email aim to lure recipients into opening the provided link and entering the requested info on the opened page.

HR (Human Resources) scam campaign

"HR (Human Resources)" scam email in detail

This email is disguised as a letter from Human Resources (HR) department regarding a memo. It requests recipients to check the selected names on the provided website. Clicking the link in this email opens a phishing website requiring visitors to sign in.

That deceptive website asks visitors to provide their email addresses and passwords. Thus, it is clear that scammers aim to steal login credentials from email recipients/website visitors. It is important to mention that they could steal all accounts that can be accessed with the entered email address and password.

Depending on the types of stolen accounts, scammers could use them to steal identities, send spam or deliver malware, make fraudulent purchases/transactions, and more. Thus, it is strongly recommended not to trust emails of this type and, more importantly, not to provide any personal information on suspicious pages.

Threat Summary:
Name HR (Human Resources) Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Link in this email opens a memo.
Disguise Letter from Human Resources deparment
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 emails in general

Most scammers behind phishing emails pretend to be legitimate entities (e.g., companies or organizations). They aim to extract sensitive information (e.g., passwords, credit card details, ID card information, social security numbers, or other details). After inspecting many emails of this type, we noticed that they usually contain a link to a deceptive/fake website.

Examples of phishing emails are "AMERICAN GLOBAL TRADE Email Scam", "New Order Email Scam", and "Your Password Has Been Changed Email Scam". Another way to use email for malicious purposes is to send emails used to deliver malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Emails used to distribute malware contain malicious attachments or links. Such emails are used to trick recipients into opening malicious MS Office or PDF documents, JavaScript files, ISO files, executable files, archives (like ZIP and RAR), or other files. Recipients infect computers via email by executing malicious files or opening malicious pages.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not open attachments and links in suspicious emails (e.g., irrelevant emails sent from unknown addresses). Do not use untrustworthy sources (like P2P networks, unofficial pages, etc.) to download software or files. Always use official pages and stores to download them.

Keep your computer and installed software updated. Use reputable antivirus software for computer protection. 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 "HR (Human Resources)" scam email:

Subject: Approval Announcement

Dear All,

Kindly check below memo referring to the above subject from HR approval for your selected.

Memostaffportal/ ******** /staffolder/********/announcements/annual-ticket2022

Please do note that all names highlighted in  Red are the ones approved.

Kindly return your response to verify date onbefore the month end.

Please let me know,should you have further questions.

Thanks & Regards,

Director of Human Resources

HR Manager for ********

Email : ********
Web   : ********

Message to ******** delivered approval memo form 18/10/2022 09:10:37

Screenshot of the phishing website:

hr human resources email scam phishing website

Another example of HR (Human Resources)-themed spam email promoting a phishing site:

HR (Human Resources) email scam (2022-11-15)

Text presented within:

Subject: Notice: Important Information To All Employees

 

Requested by : HR Department
Position : Director of Human Resources

Dear All,

Kindly check the staff memo referring to the above subject from HR department regarding low compliance to the Annual Vacation Plan for year 2022.

-

Please do note that all names highlighted in red are those who have used less than 30% of their annual leave for 2022.

Terminated/exited employees, marked in yellow color are to be reconfirmed by each line manager/supervisors so kindly return your comments before Tuesday 15/11/2022.

Please let me know,should you have further questions.

Thanks & Regards,
Director of Human Resources
HR Manager
-

Email :- -
Web   :- -

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site designed to imitate the website of user's email provider:

Phishing site promoted via HR (Human Resources) email scam (2022-11-15)

Yet another example of HR (Human Resources)-themed spam email promoting a phishing site:

HR (Human Resources) email scam (2022-11-25)

Text presented within:

Subject: Announcement/Open-Annual-Vacation/

 

Dear Gents,

Please check the Memo:

Refer to the above topic from the HR approval announcement for annual open vacation plan.
note that all the names highlighted in red are the approved listed.

A nnouncement/Open-Annual-Vacation/

Please request a return response by  Nov 28th maximum, please kindly take your time before marking the planned date, as indicated under the name label area in red on the record-sheet.

Continue to Stay Safe.

Human Resources
Announcement
********

HR Director

Human Resource Department
********

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site:

Phishing site promoted via HR (Human Resources) email scam (2022-11-25)

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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?

Your email has likely been leaked or provided on an untrustworthy website. Scam emails are not personal - scammers send them to all addresses they have.

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

If you provided your password on the phishing website received via this email, change your passwords as soon as possible.

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

It depends on the type of that file. Executable files infect computers right after they are opened. However, other files (e.g., MS Office documents, archives) are harmless until additional steps are performed (e.g., macros commands are enabled or extracted files are executed).

I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?

No, it is safe to open emails used to deliver malware without clicking links or opening attachments.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate almost all known malware. Typically, high-end malware hides deep in the system. For this reason, the operating system must be scanned using a full scan.

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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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