Avoid getting scammed by fake "Human Development Grant" emails

Also Known As: "Human Development Grant" spam email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Human Development Grant"?

Our inspection of the "Human Development Grant" email revealed that it is spam. This scam letter makes claims about the recipient having been chosen to receive a massive amount of money from the "2023 United Nations Reimbursement program".

It must be emphasized that all these claims are false, and they are most likely used to facilitate a phishing scam (i.e., trick users into disclosing private data). Alternatively, such spam campaigns may attempt to deceive recipients into making monetary transactions.

Human Development Grant email spam campaign

"Human Development Grant" email scam overview

Spam email is presented as a missive from the "United Nations General for Economic Development". It states that the recipient's email has been randomly selected for the "2023 human development grant", which is part of the year's "United Nations Reimbursement program" intended to support individuals, businesses, and corporate bodies.

The bogus grant is listed as 1.5 million USD. The letter instructs the recipient to use the provided contact details to gain further information.

It must be stressed that this email is fake, and it is in no way associated with the United Nations or any other legitimate entities.

Spam mail of this kind can operate variously. In most cases, such letters aim to lure users into disclosing sensitive data, e.g., personally identifiable details (e.g., name, age, occupation, home address, etc.) and finance-related information (e.g., banking account log-in credentials, credit card numbers, etc.).

However, these types of scams may also attempt to trick victims into giving the scammers money (e.g., under the guise of fake fees, taxes, etc.). Cyber criminals prefer to use difficult-to-trace methods to obtain funds, e.g., cryptocurrencies, pre-paid vouchers, gift cards, or cash hidden in innocent-looking packages and shipped.

To summarize, by trusting an email like "Human Development Grant" – users can experience system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

If you have already disclosed personally-identifiable or finance-related information – immediately contact the appropriate authorities. And if you've provided your account credentials – change the password of all potentially exposed accounts and inform their official support without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name "Human Development Grant" spam email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient will receive a grant worth 1.5 million USD
Disguise United Nations
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 inspected thousands of spam emails; "Orders Payment Swift Telex Copies", "Purchase Confirmation", "Economic Devastation Recovery Relief", "Your Bitcoin Wallet Has Been Credited", and "United Nations Reimbursement Program" are merely some examples of our newest finds.

This mail is used to facilitate a wide variety of scams (e.g., phishing, sextortion, tech support, etc.) and even to distribute trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, and other malware. These letters can be variously disguised, including as messages from genuine companies, service providers, institutions, authorities, and other entities.

Due to how widespread and well-made spam mail can be, we strongly advise exercising caution with incoming emails, DMs/PMs, SMSes, and other messages.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

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

When such a file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the infection process (i.e., malware download/installation) is triggered. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect devices by executing malicious macro commands, while virulent Microsoft OneNote files need users to click on embedded files/links.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We highly recommend treating incoming emails and other messages with care. The attachments or links present in suspicious/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be infectious. It is important to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro command execution.

However, it must be mentioned that malware is not proliferated exclusively through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise being cautious while browsing since fraudulent and malicious online content usually appears ordinary and harmless.

Additionally, all downloads must be performed from official and trustworthy sources. Another recommendation is to activate and update software using only legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updates can contain malware.

We must emphasize that having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date is paramount to device/user safety. Security programs must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats/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 "Human Development Grant" spam email letter:

Subject: Congratulations,

United Nations General for Economic Development.


Your email was randomly selected for the 2023 human development grant of 1.5M Package for First Quarter
United Nations Reimbursement program 2023. This is to support individuals; businesses and corporate Bodies.

Please reach Mr. Gilbert Jones for more information.

Contact Name: Mr. Gilbert Jones
St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace                                   
Address: 78 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AG, UK                                   
Phone: +44 752 063 5117                                   
Email: center4peace@naver.com         


Nicolas Ellis
Assistant Secretary General
Economic Human Development
United Nations, London UK

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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 in large-scale campaigns – hence, thousands of users receive identical messages. This mail is not personal.

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

If you have disclosed your private information (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) – immediately contact the corresponding authorities. And if you've provided log-in credentials – change the password of all potentially exposed accounts and inform their official support without delay.

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

No, merely opening an email will not trigger any system infection processes. Malware download/installation is initiated when malicious attachments or links are opened.

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

Whether your device was infected might depend on the open file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes. However, documents (.doc, .xls, .one, .pdf, etc.) might require additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking on embedded content, etc.) to start downloading/installing malware.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate practically all known malware infections. Keep in mind that since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems – running a complete system scan is essential.

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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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