Avoid losing your account via fake "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" emails

Also Known As: "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "IMAP/POP Configuration Error"?

After inspecting the "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" email, we determined that it is spam. This letter falsely states that due to a configuration error, incoming messages have failed to reach the inbox. The goal of these claims is to trick recipients into attempting to restore their accounts through a phishing website that is designed to record entered log-in credentials.

IMAP/POP Configuration Error email spam campaign

"IMAP/POP Configuration Error" email scam overview

The email with the subject "MailBox Error" (may vary) states that incoming messages have failed to reach the inbox and are currently pending due to a configuration error. The letter informs that the error must be corrected to receive the withheld messages. The recipient is warned not to ignore this notification since pending emails are only stored for 14 days, and they are deleted following the deadline.

The spam email is signed off with "microsoft" in an attempt to create an impression of legitimacy. It must be stressed that this mail is fake as are all its claims, and it is in no way associated with the actual Microsoft Corporation.

When we pressed the "| Restore Server |" button presented in this letter, we were redirected to a phishing site disguised as an email account sign-in page. By trying to log in through this fake webpage, users will inadvertently expose their email accounts.

In addition to stealing the emails, cyber criminals may also gain access to the content registered through them. To expand upon this, scammers can steal the identities of social account owners (e.g., emails, social networking/media, messengers, etc.) and ask the contacts/friends/followers for loans or donations, promote scams, and spread malware by sharing malicious files/links.

What is more, hijacked finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, money transferring, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases.

To summarize, by trusting an email like "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" – users can experience system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

If you have already disclosed your log-in credentials – immediately change the passwords of all possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support.

Threat Summary:
Name "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" phishing email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Due to an error incoming emails failed to reach the inbox.
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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Phishing spam campaign examples

We have examined thousands of spam emails; "Ledger Wallet Has Been Suspended Due To Suspicious Activity", "New/Old Staff Payroll", "Payment Proforma Invoice / Contract", and "Email Access Is Set To Expire" are merely a few examples of ones used for phishing.

These letters predominantly target log-in credentials of online accounts and personally identifiable information. Spam mail is used to facilitate a wide variety of scams and even to distribute malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.). Deceptive emails can be competently crafted and wear varied disguises.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns proliferate malware by distributing infectious files as attachments or download links. These files come in various formats, e.g., archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), documents (Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, PDF, etc.), JavaScript, and so on.

When a virulent file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the infection chain is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents infect systems by executing malicious macro commands, while infectious OneNote files require users to click on embedded files/links.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly recommend being careful with incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages. The attachments or links found in dubious/irrelevant mail must not be opened, as they can be virulent.

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, malware is not spread only through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise caution while browsing since fake and malicious online content usually appears ordinary and innocuous.

Furthermore, all downloads must be performed from official and verified channels. Another recommendation is to activate and update software by using legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updaters can contain malware.

It is paramount to have a reputable 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 "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" spam email letter:

Subject: MailBox Error

Hi ********,

Due to an IMAP/POP configuration error for ******** some incoming messages are waiting on our mail server.

To avoid missing important messages, Click Server Restore to access the ******** server to automatically correct this error and download pending messages.


| Restore Server |

Note: Quarantined emails will be permanently deleted after 14 days to free up server space, Do not ignore this email to avoid login interruption

The ******** Team

Message Request for ********

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" spam campaign:

IMAP/POP Configuration Error scam email promoted phishing site

Screenshot of another IMAP/POP server-themed spam email promoting a phishing site:

Error has occured in your imap/pop3 mails server

Text presented within:

Subject: Mail Client Configuration Error: Failed Delivery in *********

Authentication Failure (*********) *********

Error has occured in your imap/pop3 mails server. This will hinder outgoing/incoming mail delivery through your mail client.

We're sorry to notify you that some messages you sent from  ********* could not be delivered to two or more of its recipients.

Please fix tthis error to avoid losing your important messages.
You're required to use the below link to sign in to your email account to start resolving this

Login To Authenticate

This message was created automatically by mail delivery server software, please do not reply.
Webmaster for *********   Account and services.
© 2023 Maill Server Support All right reserved

Yet another example of IMAP/POP-themed scam email:


Text presented within:



Direct information to: ********

Authentication timeout error. We were unable to validate your imap/pop3 login credentials.
Due to this error, we are limiting your inbound/outbound mail capacity until you validate your account
You need to verify your account to view undelivered emails before they are deleted.

Note: Your mailbox will be closed after 48 hours if you fail to submit this report.

Authenticate Now !

******** Service

Yet another example of an email from "IMAP/POP Configuration Error" spam campaign:

IMAP/POP Configuration Error scam email (2023-08-01)

Text presented within:




Information direct to  : ********

Autthentication time-out error. We failed to validate your imap/pop3 login cresidentials.
Due to this error, we limited your incoming/outgoing mail capacity from Tuesday, 30th July 2023 to Monday, 1st August 2023.

You're required to proceed with your correct password to view the mails that has not been delivered to you before it will be deleted.

Please, try signing in again with the link below to begin the authentication process.
Authenticate Now

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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?

Spam mail is not personal. Cyber criminals distribute these emails by the thousand with the hopes that at least some recipients will fall for their scams.

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

If you have provided your account credentials – immediately change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and inform their official support. And if the disclosed information was of a different personal nature (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) – contact the appropriate authorities without delay.

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

No, opening/reading an email will not trigger any malware download/installation processes. Devices are infected when malicious attachments/links are opened.

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

If the opened file was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes – your device was infected. However, you might have avoided jumpstarting such a process if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .one, .pdf, etc.). These formats may require additional actions (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking on embedded files/links, 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. It must be stressed that performing a full system scan is crucial – since sophisticated malicious software usually hides 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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