How to spot scams like "Economic Devastation Recovery Relief"
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on
What is "Economic Devastation Recovery Relief"?
We have examined this letter and determined that it is a scam email that aims to trick recipients into believing that they have been awarded a large sum of money. This is a common phishing scam, and recipients should not respond to such emails or provide any personal information.
More about the "Economic Devastation Recovery Relief" scam email
The email is presented as a message from Relief International Inc., a charity organization based in South Africa. It informs recipients that they have been awarded a sum of $1,000,000 as part of an Economic Devastation Recovery Relief program. The email goes on to explain the current economic challenges being faced globally and the need for poverty alleviation and economic recovery programs.
It then provides contact information for a Regional Payment Administrator (RPA), who recipients are instructed to contact to receive the funds. The email asks for personal information, such as full name, address, telephone number, age, occupation, and bank account information.
When individuals reply to such scam emails, scammers use various tactics to try to extract money or sensitive information from them. They may continue to engage with recipients via email or phone, trying to gain their trust and confidence by pretending to be a legitimate organization or person.
They may ask potential victims to provide personal information such as bank account details, social security numbers, or passwords, which they can then use to steal their identity or money. In some cases, scammers may ask victims to pay a fee or make a donation in order to receive the promised funds, claiming that this is required to cover administrative costs or taxes.
However, once victims send the money, the scammers may disappear or demand further payments. Ultimately, the purpose of such scam sis to trick recipients into giving scammers money or personal information, which they can then use for fraudulent purposes.
|Name||Economic Devastation Recovery Relief Email Scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Recipients have been awarded a sum of $1,000,000|
|Disguise||Letter from Dr. Thomas Yi, Secretary of the Relief Charity International|
|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 scam emails in general
These emails are unsolicited and arrive unexpectedly, often creating a sense of urgency and pressure for the recipient to act quickly. In most cases, such emails promise large sums of money for little or no effort and request personal information, such as bank account details, passwords, or Social Security numbers.
Examples of similar emails are "United Nations Reimbursement Program Email Scam", "Investment Manager Email Scam", and "New Project Proposal Email Scam". It is important to know that emails sent by cybercriminals can be designed to lure recipients into infecting their computers.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
In order to infect computers, threat actors depend on recipients to willingly download and activate malware by opening malicious attachments or clicking on links in email messages. It should be emphasized that not all malicious files will infect a computer as soon as they are opened.
How to avoid installation of malware?
Refrain from opening any links or attachments present in emails from unfamiliar sources, especially if they seem irrelevant, as such emails may harbor malware. Only download software from credible sources such as verified stores and official pages, and avoid clicking on advertisements on dubious websites.
Keep your operating system and installed software up to date, and never use third-party tools to update or activate any software. Using trustworthy antivirus software and conducting regular scans for potential threats on your computer is also recommended.
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 "Economic Devastation Recovery Relief" email letter:
Subject: Relief International Award Notification
Relief International Inc.
2nd Floor, 351 Francis Baard St,
Attn: E-mail Beneficiary,
Economic Recovery Fund Donation.
You have been awarded the sum of US$1,000,000 (One Million United States Dollars) as Economic Devastation Recovery Relief.
The global economic recovery is set to decelerate in this 2023 according to World Bank Economists. Global growth is slowing sharply, with worldwide economic output projected to be just 1.7% this year. World Bank economists are warning that the downturn would be widespread and any adverse developments risk pushing the global economy into recession. Slowing growth affects 95% of advanced economies and nearly 70% of emerging markets and developing economies - with the potential for increasing poverty rates in some regions. The world faces a recession in this 202, with higher borrowing costs aimed at tackling inflation causing a number of economies to contract.
Relief International Incorporated remains the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for low-income countries. Its five institutions share a commitment to reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development.
The current challenges underscore the need to foster global distribution of funds, enhance debt sustainability and inequality, and diversify economic activity. From the predictions, it’s clear that challenging times lie more years ahead for the global economy-and particularly for developing countries-as economic stimulus slow and credit conditions tighten.
In that context, we have received Billions of Dollars from Donors who are Multi-national Corporations, Global Billionaires and some Global Financial Organizations to help in this poverty alleviation and economic recovery program. Our funds have been delivered down to our distribution points and currently secured in South Africa. Our Payment administrator will help to process and release to you the sum of US$1,000,000 (One Million United States Dollars) to enable you boost your business, financially stabilize your region, help the vulnerable and less-privileged and help stabilize the current shrinking Global Economy.
Kindly contact Regional Payment Administrator (RPA) to assist you receives this money. His information is below;
Name: Mr. Zondo Vilakazi
Ensure to provide him with your following information;
1. Your full names.
2. Your address.
3. Your telephone.
4. Your age.
5. Your occupation.
6. Your bank account information where to receive funds.
We thank you and congratulate you once again!
Dr. Thomas Yi
RELIEF CHARITY INTERNATIONAL
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- What is Economic Devastation Recovery Relief phishing scam?
- 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?
The spam emails sent by criminals are impersonal and are identical copies of the same letter that is sent to thousands of recipients in the hopes of tricking someone into falling for the scam.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by this email, what should I do?
If you have disclosed any account credentials, it is recommended that you change all of your passwords promptly. In case you have disclosed any other personal information, such as credit card details, ID card information, etc., it is advisable to contact the relevant authorities without delay.
I have downloaded and opened a malicious file attached to an email, is my computer infected?
Not all malicious files infect computers immediately upon being opened. If the file you downloaded is executable, the likelihood of infection is high. However, if it is a document such as a .pdf or .doc file, you may have been able to avoid infection, as simply opening such a document does not always result in the system being infiltrated by malware.
Was my computer actually hacked and does the sender have any information?
No, your computer was not actually hacked (or infected). Scammers could have old passwords retrieved from databases containing leaked information.
I have sent cryptocurrency to the address presented in such email, can I get my money back?
These transactions are almost impossible to trace, which implies that you will not be able to recover the lost amount.
I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?
Merely opening an email poses no risk to the system's security. The real danger lies in clicking on malicious links or opening attached files contained in the emails.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?
It should be noted that Combo Cleaner can identify and remove almost all identified malware infections. However, it is important to keep in mind that advanced forms of malware often hide in the depths of a system, which is why performing a thorough system scan is essential.
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