What kind of email is "PCRF"?
It is common for scams promoted through spam campaigns to take advantage of ongoing crises, and this "PCRF" email is no exception. This mail's backdrop is the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, and the email is presented as a donation request from Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF).
It must be stressed that this spam mail is in no way associated with the actual non-governmental and nonprofit organization. Hence, by transferring cryptocurrency to the provided wallet – the recipient will be sending their funds to scammers.
"PCRF" email scam overview
The spam email with the subject "Urgent Gaza Relief (Palestine Children's Relief Funds)" (may vary) starts by describing the PCRF organization.
It seeks support and donations for the following needs in the ongoing war: unrestricted access for international medical personnel in Gaza's hospitals, power supply and medical equipment relief, evacuation for critically injured civilians, and blood donors. The letter lists the address of a Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet into which recipients can transfer their donations.
It must be emphasized that this mail is fake, and it is not associated with the Palestine Children's Relief Fund or any other legitimate entities. Therefore, all of the transferred funds will be sent to scammers.
Furthermore, due to the virtually untraceable nature of cryptocurrency transactions – they are practically irreversible, meaning that victims will be unable to return their funds.
|Name||"PCRF" spam email|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Recipient is asked to donate to PCRF.|
|Disguise||Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF)|
|Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address||bc1qu976mlyvxgc5pzqum6f9dktzgfkvhpudmchhde (Bitcoin)|
|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.
Spam campaigns in general
We have analyzed countless spam emails; "HSBC - Payment Swift Copy", "Webmail Software Upgrade", "RFQ Doc List", "Intuit QuickBooks Database Encryption Upgrade", and "American Express - Account Validation Required" are just a few of our newest finds.
Various scams are promoted through spam mail, and it is used to proliferate malware. These letters are infamous for being riddled with errors; however, they may also be elaborately disguised as messages from legitimate companies, organizations, institutions, service providers, and other entities.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
Once an infectious file is opened – the malware download/installation chain is triggered. However, some formats may need additional actions to initiate infection processes. For example, Microsoft Office files require users to enable macros (i.e., editing/content), while OneNote documents need them to click on embedded files/links.
How to avoid installation of malware?
It is important to treat incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages with caution. We advise against opening attachments or links present in dubious mail, as they can be malicious. We also recommend using Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 since their "Protected View" mode prevents automatic macro command execution.
It must be mentioned that malware is not spread only through spam mail. Therefore, all downloads must be performed from official and verified sources. Another recommendation is to activate and update programs using legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updaters may contain malware.
It is essential to be careful while browsing since fake and dangerous online content usually appears genuine and harmless.
We must emphasize that having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date is paramount to device and user safety. Security software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove 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 the "PCRF" spam email letter:
Subject: Urgent Gaza Relief (Palestine Children's Relief Funds)
Dear Esteemed Friends,
We, a dedicated group of healthcare professionals from nineteen nations, work with the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF) to provide humanitarian relief in Gaza. Over three decades, PCRF has been a beacon of hope, serving children and families in the region.
As PCRF volunteers, we've led medical missions, trained local healthcare providers, and strengthened hospital infrastructure. However, since October 7th, 2023, we've witnessed tragic losses and injuries among innocent children and their families.
Today, as members of PCRF's Medical Advisory Board, we urge governments and compassionate individuals worldwide to take immediate action. We seek support and donations for:
Unrestricted access for international medical personnel in Gaza's hospitals.
Relief for power supply and critical medical equipment.
Urgent evacuation of critically injured civilians needing advanced care.
Support for blood transfusion and donors.
Your generous donations are crucial in these trying times as we aim to assist the people of Gaza, where lives are at stake.
Please consider contributing through our Bitcoin wallet address:
[ BITCOIN WALLET ADDRESS: bc1qu976mlyvxgc5pzqum6f9dktzgfkvhpudmchhde ]
May Allah reward you abundantly for your compassion.
Dr. Aariz Hassan
The Medical Advisory Board
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- What is "PCRF" spam 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 impersonal. These letters are sent out in large-scale campaigns – hence, thousands of users receive identical messages.
I have sent cryptocurrency to the address presented in this email, can I get my money back?
No, since cryptocurrency transactions are practically untraceable – they cannot be reversed.
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
No, just opening/reading an email is harmless. Devices are infected when a malicious attachment or link is opened/clicked.
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 – your system was compromised. However, you might have avoided this if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .one, .pdf, etc.). These formats can require additional actions (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking embedded files/links, etc.) to jumpstart infection processes.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating most of the known malware infections. It is noteworthy that performing a full system scan is crucial since sophisticated malicious software typically hides deep within systems.