Do not trust fake "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" emails

Also Known As: "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card"?

After reviewing the "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" email, we determined that it is fake. Presented as a notification from American Express, it claims that the recipient has been given a reward payment.

The letter instructs to download and access the attachment, thus validating the payment and releasing it to their account. However, the attachment is a phishing file that targets log-in credentials.

It must be emphasized that all the claims made by this email are false, and this mail is not associated with the actual American Express Company.

A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card email spam campaign

"A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" email scam overview

The spam email with the subject "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" (may vary) is disguised as a message from American Express. It informs the recipient that a reward payment has been posted to their card/account. It has been adjusted to reflect the disputed amount of 2500.19 USD.

The letter instructs to review the attached file for more information concerning the payment. Accessing the file and completing a validation process will supposedly transfer the sum to the recipient's account within 24 hours.

As mentioned in the introduction, this email is fake, and it is in no way associated with the real American Express Company.

The attachment – "American Express _Secure_Message.html" (filename may vary) – is a phishing file. It imitates the account sign-in page of American Express. Despite its relatively legitimate appearance, the HTML file is fake and records entered information (i.e., log-in credentials).

Stolen financial accounts can be used by cyber criminals to make unauthorized transactions and online purposes, as well as carry out a variety of nefarious identity-related activities.

If you have provided your log-in credentials – immediately change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support. And if you believe that your personally identifiable or finance-related data has been compromised (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) – contact the appropriate authorities.

Threat Summary:
Name "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" phishing email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Payment has been made to the recipient's card/account.
Disguise American Express
Attachment(s) American Express _Secure_Message.html (filename may vary)
Detection Names Avast (Other:SNH-gen [Phish]), Combo Cleaner (Trojan.HTML.Phishing.CCQ), ESET-NOD32 (HTML/Phishing.AmericanExpress.F), Fortinet (JS/Phishing.AMEX!tr), Microsoft (Trojan:Win32/PhishLeonem), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
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

"Expiry Notice", "Quote Order", "You Have Used All Your Available Storage Space", "You Have eFax Message", ""Email Requires A Mandatory Authentication – are just some examples of phishing emails we have examined recently.

While "American Express Account Has Been Locked", "American Express Credit/Refund Adjustment Message", "American Express Merchant Reward", and "American Express Security Team" are a couple of letters that specifically target American Express accounts.

Phishing scams primarily seek log-in credentials of various accounts/platforms, personally identifiable information (e.g., names, occupations, addresses, etc.), and financial data (e.g., banking account details, credit card numbers, etc.). Spam campaigns facilitate a wide variety of scams, and they are also used to proliferate malware.

While infamous for being riddled with grammatical/spelling errors, this mail can be competently disguised as messages from legitimate companies, organizations, institutions, service providers, authorities, and other entities.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns distribute malware through malicious files that can be attached to or linked inside the emails/messages. These files come in various formats, e.g., archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), documents (Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, PDF, etc.), JavaScript, and so on.

Upon opening, virulent files trigger infection chains. However, some formats may need additional actions to start malware download/installation processes. For example, Microsoft Office files require users to enable macro commands (i.e., editing/content), while OneNote documents need them to click embedded files or links.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly advise being cautious with incoming emails and other messages. Attachments or links found in suspect mail must not be opened, as they can be infectious. We recommend using Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro execution.

However, malware is not proliferated exclusively via spam mail. Therefore, we also advise being vigilant when browsing since fake and malicious online content usually appears legitimate and harmless.

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

We must emphasize the importance of having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats and 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 "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" spam email letter:

Subject: A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card


Dear Card Member,
A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card

A Reward Payment Posted To Your Account

We have adjusted your payment options to reflect a disputed amount of $2500.19. to your card  account

For more information on the disputed payment received. Please download the secure attachment to view disput status.

Payment will be posted into your account within 24 hours after validation.

Thank you for your Card Membership,

American Express Customer Care

Appearance of "A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card" email email (GIF):

A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card scam email appearance (GIF)

Screenshot of the phishing file attached to this spam email ("American Express _Secure_Message.html"):

A Payment Has Been Posted On Your Card scam email promoted phishing file (American Express _Secure_Message.html)

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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 emails are not personal. These letters are distributed in large-scale 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 provided your log-in credentials – change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support without delay. However, if you have disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, 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?

Merely reading an email is harmless. Devices are infected 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 opened file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes. However, you might have avoided an infection if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .pdf, .one, etc.). These formats may need additional interaction to jumpstart malware download/installation (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking embedded content, etc.).

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 mentioned that since sophisticated malicious software usually hides deep within systems – running a complete system scan is paramount.

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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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