Avoid losing your email account via fake "Review Pending Messages" emails
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What kind of email is "Review Pending Messages"?
After inspecting the "Review Pending Messages" email, we determined that it is spam. The letter makes false claims about received messages in order to trick users into disclosing their email account log-in credentials (passwords) to a phishing website.
"Review Pending Messages" email scam overview
The spam email informs the recipient that they have four pending messages. The letter implies that the messages will be deleted unless reviewed within 14 days. As mentioned in the introduction, this letter is fake and not associated with any legitimate service providers or other entities.
Therefore, when we pressed the "Review all 4 messages" button, it resulted in a redirect to a phishing website. It was disguised as an email account sign-in page.
Phishing sites operate by recording the information entered into them. Victims of the "Review Pending Messages" campaign risk losing more than just their mail accounts, as the cyber criminals may also steal the content registered through the emails.
To elaborate, stolen finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to perform unauthorized transactions and online purchases.
Additionally, scammers can steal the identities of social account owners (e.g., emails, social media/networking, messengers, etc.) and ask the contacts/friends/followers for loans or donations, promote scams, and proliferate malware by sharing malicious files/links.
In summary, by trusting an email like "Review Pending Messages" – users can experience system infections, serious privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.
If you have already attempted to log in through a phishing website – immediately change the passwords of all possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support.
|Name||"Review Pending Messages" phishing email|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Received messages will be deleted within 14 days unless action is taken.|
|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
"Domain Ownership Has Expired", "MyGov Secure Message", "Samples Of Product", "Server Security Alert", and "Request To Delete Your Email" are just some examples of phishing emails we have investigated recently.
Spam mail is used to facilitate a wide variety of scams and even to distribute malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, etc.). These letters can wear various disguises, including as messages from legitimate companies, corporations, service providers, institutions, authorities, and other entities.
Due to how prevalent and potentially well-made this mail can be – we highly recommend exercising caution with incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
When an infectious file is executed, run, or otherwise opened – the malware download/installation chain is triggered. For example, Microsoft Office files infect devices by executing malicious macro commands, while virulent OneNote documents require users to click on embedded files/links.
How to avoid installation of malware?
We advise against opening attachments or links found in dubious/irrelevant emails and other messages, as they can be infectious. 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 advise caution while browsing since fraudulent and malicious online content usually appears ordinary/innocuous.
Furthermore, all downloads must be performed from official and trustworthy sources. It is just as important 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 for device/user safety 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 "Review Pending Messages" spam email letter:
Subject: Messages review for ********
******** Pending review - 4 Messages
Review These Messages
4 messages are being held for you to review as of 5/12/2023 7:00:45 a.m.
Review all messages within 14 days of the received date by clicking review all messages or going to the Quarantine page in the security Center.
Review all 4 messages
Note: Please do not reply to this email. Move to Inbox or mark as not Spam to review messages.
©2023 ******** Account and Services. All rights reserved Web App Support.
Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "Review Pending Messages" spam campaign:
Another example of a spam email from "Review Pending Messages" spam campaign:
Text presented within:
Subject: email attention now!
You have 5 pending emails.
5 new emails have not been delivered to your ******** inbox.
Your action is required to be forwarded.
Review now to release pending emails into your inbox.
Release Pending Messages >
Message review >
******** © 2023. All Rights Reserved.
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 "Review Pending Messages" 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 not personal. This mail is distributed in large-scale operations – therefore, 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 your log-in credentials – immediately change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and inform their official support. And if you have disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) – contact relevant authorities without delay.
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
Devices are infected when malicious attachments or links are opened; merely reading an email is not enough to trigger system infection processes.
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 – the system was infected. However, you might have avoided this if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .pdf, .one, etc.). These formats may 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 is designed to detect and remove all kinds of threats. It is capable of eliminating nearly all known malware infections. Note that since high-end malicious programs tend to hide deep within systems – running a complete system scan is crucial.
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