What is "Your Email Has Reached An Upgrade Stage Scam"?
"Your Email Has Reached An Upgrade Stage Scam" refers to an email spam campaign. Our analysis of a letter belonging to this campaign revealed that it operates as a phishing scam. This spam mail aims to extract recipients' email account log-in credentials by claiming that their accounts will be closed unless they are upgraded.
"Your Email Has Reached An Upgrade Stage Scam" overview
The email with the subject "You have (9) Pending Messages" (may vary) is presented as a notification from "The security email team". It states that the recipient's email account has researched a necessary upgrade stage, and if it is not updated – it will be closed for security reasons.
As previously mentioned, this letter is fake, as are all the claims it makes. Hence, by clicking the "Verify" button – users will be redirected to a phishing website. At the time of research, the redirect landed on a dead webpage. However, there are no guarantees that that will continue to be the case.
Phishing pages are typically disguised as legitimate websites. Spam mail that targets passwords redirects to sites disguised as the account's sign-in page.
Cyber criminals are particularly interested in email accounts since through them – they might gain control over the content registered with the mail. To elaborate, scammers can steal the identities of social account owners (e.g., emails, social networking/media, messengers, forums, etc.) and ask the contacts/friends/followers for loans or donations, promote scams, or proliferate malware by sharing malicious files/links.
Additionally, stolen finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, money transferring, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to make unauthorized transactions and online purchases.
In summary, by trusting mail like "Your Email Has Reached An Upgrade Stage" – users can experience system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.
If you have already disclosed your log-in credentials – immediately change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and contact their official support.
|Name||"Your Email Has Reached An Upgrade Stage" phishing email|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Email account will be closed unless it is upgraded.|
|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.
Phishing spam campaign examples
We have inspected thousands of spam emails; "Data Backup", "USPS - Shipment Is Still Pending", "Mailbox Cache Is Full", and "People's Postcode Lottery" are just a few examples of ones used for phishing.
In addition to various scams, deceptive emails are also used to distribute trojans, ransomware, and other malware. This mail is usually disguised as "urgent", "important", "priority", or similar; it can even be presented as messages from legitimate companies, corporations, organizations, authorities, and other entities.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
When a virulent file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the infection process is triggered. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect devices by executing malicious macro commands.
How to avoid installation of malware?
We highly recommend exercising caution with incoming emails and messages. The attachments and links present in suspect/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be malicious. 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 spread using a wide variety of techniques. Hence, we also recommend downloading only from official and verified channels. Furthermore, all programs must be activated and updated using functions/tools provided by genuine developers, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updates can contain malware.
We advise being cautious when browsing since fake and malicious online content typically appears ordinary and harmless.
Having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date is paramount to device and user safety. Security software 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 "Your Email Has Reached An Upgrade Stage Scam" spam email letter:
Subject: You have (9) Pending Messages
Email Security ********
Your email ******** has reached an upgrade stage, verify your user email to continue usage,
This is for your own safety to continue using your account, click the button below.
Note: Please do not ignore this email to avoid your account closure
The security email team.
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:
- What is "Your Email Has Reached An Upgrade Stage" phishing 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 distributed in massive campaigns – hence, 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 disclosed your account credentials – change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay. And if you have provided other private data (e.g., ID card details, 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, just reading an email will not initiate any system infection chains. Malware download/installation processes are initiated when malicious attachments or links present in spam mail are opened/clicked.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
Whether the system was infected might depend on the opened file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes – your device was infected. However, document formats (.xls, .doc, .pdf, etc.) might need additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands) to begin malware download/installation processes.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating nearly all known malware infections. It must be stressed that performing a complete system scan is essential – since sophisticated malicious programs typically hide deep within systems.