How to identify scams like "DHL Unpaid Duty"

Also Known As: DHL Unpaid Duty phishing campaign
Damage level: Medium

What is "DHL Unpaid Duty"?

During our evaluation, it has come to light that this email is a fraudulent attempt masquerading as a notification from DHL, a reputable logistics company. The individuals orchestrating this scam intend to deceive recipients into accessing a counterfeit website and divulging personal information. Such deceptive emails fall under the category of phishing emails.

DHL Unpaid Duty email spam campaign

More about the "DHL Unpaid Duty" scam email

This phishing email has the subject line "Urgent DHL: Pending Shipment Notification N402546724". It claims that there is a pending shipment with DHL Express due to an unpaid duty of $2.95. The message states that the package was undeliverable on a specified date and provides details of the supposed shipment, including an order number, the total amount due, and a planned delivery date.

In order to create a sense of urgency, the recipient is prompted to settle the outstanding duty by clicking on a provided link. The email emphasizes the importance of prompt payment to ensure timely delivery. The closing part of the message reassures the recipient about DHL's commitment to customer satisfaction, provides a contact option for customer support, and expresses gratitude for choosing DHL Express.

However, the entire email is a fraudulent attempt to deceive recipients into clicking on the provided link, leading to a fake website where sensitive information, such as name, surname, phone number, address, and other information is harvested.

Scammers may use the collected information to impersonate individuals, committing identity theft. Also, they can craft convincing phishing emails or messages to trick individuals into providing sensitive information like passwords, financial details, or login credentials.

Furthermore, scammers may use the obtained information to harass or threaten individuals, either for extortion or as part of a larger scheme. Additionally, the stolen data may be sold on the dark web to other malicious actors who can use it for various illicit purposes.

Threat Summary:
Name DHL Unpaid Duty Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim The recipient has to pay a certain amount of money to DHL
Related Domain ondemand-delivery[.]team
Detection Names ESET (Phishing), Fortinet (Phishing), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Disguise Notification from DHL
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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Similar scam emails in general

Phishing emails share common characteristics aimed at deceiving recipients into divulging sensitive information. Typically, they employ urgency or fear tactics, creating a sense of immediate action required. The content often mimics legitimate communication, utilizing logos and formatting to appear authentic.

Phishing emails commonly contain deceptive links or attachments, leading recipients to fraudulent websites or even malware-infected files. More examples of phishing emails are "Microsoft Security Team - Password Expiration", "Quarantine Area", and "FedEx - Delivery Of The Suspended Package".

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Users often inadvertently expose their computers to infections through email when malicious emails from cybercriminals carry harmful attachments, like executable files (.exe), JavaScript files (.js), or document files (.doc, .pdf, and others). The embedded malware can be activated upon downloading and opening these attachments.

Furthermore, emails may contain misleading links that direct users to fraudulent websites housing malware. Clicking on such links can trigger the download and injection of malicious software without the user's knowledge.

Importantly, not all files pose an immediate threat upon opening. For instance, malicious MS Office documents compromise computers only when users enable macros (enable editing or content) within those documents.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Regularly update your operating system, software, and applications to patch vulnerabilities that could be exploited by threat actors. Be cautious when opening attachments or clicking links, especially in irrelevant or unexpected emails. Avoid downloading files from untrusted sources, and only use official websites or app stores for software downloads.

Exercise discretion with pop-ups and ads, steering clear of suspicious ones. Install reputable security software and run system scans regularly. If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "DHL Unpaid Duty" email letter:

Subject: Urgent DHL : Pending Shipment Notification N402546724

Dear Customer,
We hope this message finds you well.
We regret to inform you that your recent shipment with DHL Express is pending due to an unpaid duty of $2.95. Unfortunately, we were unable to deliver your package on 05.12.2023. Please find the details of your shipment below:

Order Number: #402546724
Total Amount Due: $2.95
Planned Delivery Date: 12.12.2023 - 15.12.2023

To ensure prompt delivery, kindly settle the outstanding duty by clicking the link below:
Click here to pay the outstanding duty
Your satisfaction is our priority, and we appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. If you have any questions or require assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our customer support team.
Thank you for choosing DHL Express. We value your business and look forward to serving you again in the future.
Warm regards,
DHL Express Customer Service

Screenshot of the phishing page presented in this scam (asking for personal details):

Phishing site promoted via DHL Unpaid Duty email scam (page 1)

Screenshot of the phishing page presented in this scam (asking for credit card details):

Phishing site promoted via DHL Unpaid Duty email scam (page 2)

Appearance of the phishing page presented in this scam (GIF):

Phishing site promoted via DHL Unpaid Duty email scam (GIF)

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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?

Scammers dispatch identical letters to thousands of recipients, anticipating that someone will be deceived by their content. These spam emails lack any personalization.

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

If you have shared any account credentials, promptly update all passwords. If you have disclosed other personal information (like credit card details, ID card information, social security number, etc.), reach out to the relevant authorities.

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

Opening an executable file significantly increases the risk of infection. However, in the case of documents like .pdf or .doc, there is a chance you may have avoided infection, as simply opening such documents might not be adequate for malware to infiltrate the system.

I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?

No, merely opening an email poses no threat. System infections can occur when opening attached files or links.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Combo Cleaner possesses the capability to identify and eliminate nearly all known malware. Advanced malware often conceals itself deep within the system. Therefore, conducting a full system scan is imperative for effective detection and removal.

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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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