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Avoid getting scammed by fake "Real Estate Investment" email

Also Known As: "Real Estate Investment" spam email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Real Estate Investment"?

After inspecting the "Real Estate Investment" email – we determined that it is fake. The spam letter claims to be sent by an ex-government official from the opposition party in Syria. The fabricated sender expresses wishes to make the recipient a foreign partner in their business ventures. This implies that the recipient will receive a large sum of money.

Typically, spam mail of this type aims to obtain personally identifiable information and/or trick users into transferring money. Hence, this letter must be ignored and reported as spam.

Real Estate Investment email spam campaign

"Real Estate Investment" email scam overview

The email with the subject "Greeting My Dear Friend," (may vary) is presented as a missive from Salem Mohamed – a man from Damascus, Syria. This scam identity supposedly belongs to a former member of Syria's opposition party.

The sender requests the recipient to become their foreign partner and aid them in transferring the capital, as well as relocating their family. The capital (16.5 million USD) is allegedly in an international account and will be used to start businesses in the recipient's country.

The fake letter then goes on to provide some vague details concerning the situation in Syria. The sender requests the recipient to contact them without delay. Spam mail often incorporates plausible information, such as real-world events (e.g., wars, natural disasters, political unrest, pandemics/epidemics, etc.) – to create an impression of legitimacy and urgency.

In most cases, this scam model (wherein the victim will supposedly get a ludicrous amount of money) is used to extract highly sensitive information or deceive users into making monetary transactions.

Data of interest may include the victim's full name, sex, age, occupation, address, telephone number, banking account details, credit card numbers, and so forth. This information can be used to steal the victim's identity or otherwise abused to generate revenue.

Additionally, scammers can request users to make monetary transactions (e.g., pay transferring, storage, shipping, traveling, or other fees) to receive the promised funds.

Cyber criminals can redirect users to phishing websites (disguised as bank account sign-in pages, payment gateways, etc.) that record finance-related information, which can then be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases.

Alternatively, scammers can request the "fees" to be transferred using difficult-to-trace methods, such as cryptocurrencies, gift cards, pre-paid vouchers, or hidden within innocuous-looking packages and shipped.

In summary, by trusting emails like "Real Estate Investment" – users can experience severe privacy issues, significant financial losses, and identity theft.

If you have provided account log-in credentials to scammers or entered them into a suspicious website – immediately change the passwords of all potentially exposed 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.

Threat Summary:
Name "Real Estate Investment" spam email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Ex-government official from Syria wishes the recipient to become their business partner.
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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Spam campaigns in general

We have analyzed countless spam emails; "Fund For God's Work" and "Next Of Kin" are just a couple examples of ones similar to "Real Estate Investment".

Numerous scam models are used by deceptive mail to trick recipients into making monetary transactions, providing log-in credentials (usernames/passwords), disclosing personally-identifiable or finance-related information, calling fake help lines, opening malicious attachments/links, downloading/installing software, and so on. These letters facilitate various scams and can distribute trojans, ransomware, and other malware.

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

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns proliferate malware through infectious files. The deceptive emails can distribute them as attachments or download links. Malicious files can be in various formats, e.g., executables (.exe, .run, etc.), archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), PDF and Microsoft Office documents, JavaScript, and so on.

When such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the infection process (i.e., malware download/installation) is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect devices by executing malicious macro commands.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly recommend exercising caution with incoming emails and other messages. We advise against opening attachments or links found in suspect/irrelevant mail – as they can be malicious and cause infections.

It is essential to use post-2010 Microsoft Office versions since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro command execution.

However, malware is not spread exclusively through spam mail. Therefore, we also recommend downloading only from official and trustworthy sources. Furthermore, software must be activated and updated with legitimate tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updates may be laced with malicious content.

Another recommendation is to be vigilant when browsing since fake and dangerous online material usually appears ordinary and harmless.

We must stress the importance of having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. 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 "Real Estate Investment" spam email letter:

Subject: Greeting My Dear Friend,


Greeting My Dear Friend,


Please kindly pardon me for any inconvenience this letter may cost you because I know it may come to you as a surprise, I am Mr. Salem Mohamed from Damascus Syria, and I have now resigned from the government. I am a member of an opposition party government in Syria, I need a foreign partner to enable me to transport my investment capital and then relocate with my family, honestly I wish I will discuss more and get along. I need a partner because my investment capital is in my international account. Am interested in buying Properties, houses, and some tourist places, or any business ideal you know that we can invest in your country, my capital for investment is ($16.5Million USD).


I came across your e-mail contact prior a private search while in need of your assistance and I decided to contact you directly to ask you if you know any Lucrative Business Investment in your Country I can invest my Money since my Country Syria Security and Economic Independent has lost to the Greatest Lower level, and our Culture has lost forever including our happiness has been taken away from us. Our Country has been on fire for many years now.


If you are capable of handling this deal Contact me for more details i will appreciate it if you can contact me immediately.


You may as well tell me a little more about yourself. Contact me urgently to enable us to proceed with the business.


I am waiting for your response.


Sincerely Yours,
Mr. Salem Mohamed.

Another example of real estate investment-themed scam email:

Real Estate Investment email scam (2023-01-17)

Text presented within:

Subject: Esteem Compliment ,

 

URGENT REPLY NEEDED

I hope this mail meets you in good time, my name is Mrs.Natalka  
Evanko, I am married to Late Mr. Fedir Evanko (Ukraine sunflower
oil & wheat,maize farmer ) my husband was murdered by the Russian
Army troop because of the war between Russian & Ukraine it was  
very terrible.  

He was a sunflower oil & wheat and maize farmer who have invested
much in agriculture political opponents.

I was diagnosed with Esophagus cancer and the Doctor told me that
I would not last long due to my complicated health issues and the
war in my country Ukraine.

Before the death of my husband, he made a deposit of $10 Million
dollars in Thailand , with intention of using it for the purchase
of new farm machinaries and chemical for Agricultural purpose as
well as purchasing hectares of land in Thailand for his
investment, before his death, I have been battling with Cancer
and according to my doctor the stage is uncontrollable now and I
have few time to live and am currently at an intensive care home
outside my country Ukraine due to the war.

I want to sow this fund from my deceased husband’s enterprise as
a seed in your care since we have no Child to inherit them. I
will want you to dispatch some to charity organizations, as I
want this to be one of the last good deeds I and my late husband
did on earth.

Any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for another
individual for this same purpose.If you are not interested,kindly
pardon me for contacting you.

Please kindly get back to me Email : natalisttaaa@yahoo.com

Thanks,
Yours sincerely,
Mrs Natalka Evanko

Yet another example of real estate investment-themed spam email:

Real estate investment-themed scam email (2023-01-25)

Text presented within:

Subject: Greeting My Dear Friend,


Greetings,

I am Mr. Salem Mohamed from Damascus Syria, and I have now resigned from the government. I am a member of an opposition party government in Syria,

I need a foreign partner to enable me to transport my investment capital and then relocate with my family, honestly I wish I will discuss more and get along. I need a partner because my investment capital is in my international account. Am interested in buying Properties, houses, and some tourist places, or any business ideal you know that we can invest in your country, my capital for investment is ($16.5Million USD).

I came across your e-mail contact prior a private search while in need of your assistance and I decided to contact you directly to ask you if you know any Lucrative Business Investment in your Country I can invest my Money since my Country Syria Security and Economic Independent has lost to the Greatest Lower level, and our Culture has lost forever including our happiness has been taken away from us. Our Country has been on fire for many years now.

If you are capable of handling this deal Contact me for more details i will appreciate it if you can contact me immediately.

You may as well tell me a little more about yourself. Contact me urgently to enable us to proceed with the business.

I am waiting for your response,

Sincerely Yours,
Mr. Salem Mohamed

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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?

Cyber criminals distribute spam emails in large-scale operations. Hence, this mail is not personal, and 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 possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay. And if the disclosed information was of a different personal nature (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit card numbers, etc.) – immediately contact the appropriate authorities.

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

No, reading an email will not infect your device. Malware download/installation processes are triggered when malicious 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 open file was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes – the system was infected. However, document formats (.doc, .xls, etc.) may need 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 eliminate threats. It is capable of removing practically all known malware infections. However, it must be mentioned that performing a complete system scan is paramount – since sophisticated malicious programs tend 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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