How to identify scams like "Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys" scam email

Also Known As: Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys inheritance scam
Damage level: Medium

What is "Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys" email scam?

In the process of our assessment, it has surfaced that this is a scam email masquerading as a notification from COETZEE & FISHER ATTORNEYS. Scammers behind this email aim to trick recipients into believing that they can receive a large sum of money. Emails of this kind are used to extract personal information and (or) money.

Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys email spam campaign

More about the "Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys" scam email

The email asks recipients to open the attached file ("Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys.pdf"). The message in the document claims to be from a law firm, Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys, notifying the recipient about a bequest left by the late Mr. Robinson F. Busby.

It states that the recipient has been named as a beneficiary in Mr. Busby's will, with an inheritance amount of $2,400,000. The email emphasizes Mr. Busby's philanthropy and Christian activities, indicating that the money is intended to support such endeavors and help the poor and needy.

The sender, supposedly Barrister Eric Coetzee, urges the recipient to respond promptly to facilitate the conclusion of the process. The email provides contact details, including an email address (barristerericcoetzee@safrica.com) and a phone number.

The fraudsters seek to trick recipients into responding with personal information or making payments under the false pretext of facilitating the inheritance process. The ultimate goal is to exploit individuals financially or gain unauthorized access to sensitive details. It is a classic example of an advance fee fraud or inheritance scam, preying on the recipient's trust and desire for financial gain.

Threat Summary:
Name Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient has been named as a beneficiary in a will
Disguise Letter from a law firm
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

As a rule, these emails commonly share characteristics such as unsolicited claims of unexpected inheritances, urgency, requests for personal information, and the use of official-sounding entities or legal representatives. They aim to exploit recipients by creating a sense of urgency and trust, leading to financial scams or identity theft.

It is important to note that files attached to emails of this kind (or links in in them) can be used to trick recipients into infecting their computers. Examples of mails crafted with malicious intentions are "Oversea Credit Commission Email Scam", "American Express - Unusual Spending Activities Detected Email Scam", and "Payroll Sheet Email Scam".

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Employing deceptive strategies, cybercriminals frequently send seemingly authentic and urgent emails, persuading recipients to click on embedded links or download attachments. Upon interaction with these elements, malware is activated, compromising the security of the user's computer and potentially resulting in diverse cyberattacks.

Cybercriminals often use various file types, including executable files (.exe), JavaScript files (.js), Microsoft Office documents (.doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx), and compressed files (.zip, .rar), among others, to deliver malware through email-based attacks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Refrain from clicking on links or downloading attachments in unsolicited emails, especially if they appear unexpected or urge immediate action. Keep all software, including the operating system, antivirus programs, and applications, up to date. Employ robust antivirus and anti-malware software.

Also, avoid questionable websites, and do not interact with shady pop-ups, ads, "Download" buttons, notifications from shady sites, and similar content. Download apps and files from official pages and app stores, and avoid downloading pirated software (or cracking tools).

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 "Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys" email attachment:

coetzee & fisher ATTORNEYS
Tel: +27 73166 5544 Fax: +27 73166 5544 Email: BarristerEricCoetzee@safrica.com

Attn: Beneficiary,
On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the estate of Late Mr. Robinson F. Busby, I once
again try to notify you as my earlier letter was returned undelivered. I hereby attempt to reach
you again on this same email address in the WILL. I wish to notify you that late Mr. Robinson
F. Busby made you a beneficiary to his WILL. He left the sum of US$2,400.000.00 (Two
Million Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) to you in the codicil and last testament
to his will.
Being a widely traveled man, he must have been in contact with you in the past or simply you
were nominated to him by one of his numerous friends abroad who wished you good.
Mr. Robinson F. Busby, until his death was a member of the Helicopter Society and the
Institute of Electronic & Electrical Engineers. He was a very dedicated Christian who loved to
give out. His great philanthropy earned him numerous awards during his life time. Late Mr.
Robinson F. Busby died on the 16th day of February 2021 at the age of 90 years and his WILL
is now ready for execution. According to him, this money is to support his Christian activities
(May his soul rest in peace) and to help the poor and needy.
Please if I reach you as I am hopeful, endeavor to get back to me as soon as possible to enable
me conclude my job and mail your inheritance Check (US$2,400,000.00), Original Copies of
your Will and Will Certificate to you. I hope to hear from you in no distant date. Please kindly
contact me on the above email address and phone number urgently for directives on how to
proceed with the claim of your inheritance fund and mailing of your Check (US$2,400,000.00).
Barrister Eric Coetzee (ESQ)
(Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys)

©2023 Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Screenshot of the email:

Coetzee & Fisher Attorneys email scam spam email

Text in the email:

Subject: BEQUEST


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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 messages to a large number of individuals, anticipating that someone among them will be tricked. These spam communications lack personalization, as scammers seldom focus on specific individuals.

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

Cease any further communication with the scammer, and do not comply with any additional requests. Consider reporting the incident to your local law enforcement agency and the relevant authorities. Additionally, contact your bank and any other financial institutions where you may have shared sensitive details, informing them of the situation.

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

The attached file is not harmful, and therefore, your computer is not infected. Nevertheless, it is important to be cautious, as cybercriminals may exploit attachments and links to deceive recipients into triggering malware.

I have sent cryptocurrency to the address presented in such email, can I get my money back?

Cryptocurrency transactions are nearly impossible to trace, making it unfeasible for you to recover them.

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

Merely opening an email poses no threat by itself. System infections typically occur when recipients open links within the email or open attached files.

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

Combo Cleaner is proficient at spotting and eradicating virtually all known malware infections. It is essential to understand that advanced malware tends to obscure itself deeply within the system. Therefore, it is imperative to perform a thorough system scan.

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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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