Avoid getting scammed by fake "Scam Relief Fund Initiative" emails

Also Known As: "Scam Relief Fund Initiative" spam email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Scam Relief Fund Initiative"?

After checking out the "Scam Relief Fund Initiative" email, we determined that it is spam. It promises to provide exorbitant financial relief to recipients who have previously fallen victim to scams. The supposed initiative is US-based, located in Los Angeles, California.

It must be stressed that this email is a scam in itself. This spam mail likely seeks to deceive recipients into transferring funds to scammers or revealing highly sensitive information.

Scam Relief Fund Initiative email spam campaign

"Scam Relief Fund Initiative" email scam overview

This spam email has the subject "Greetings" (may vary); it claims that the recipient is being contacted by an assistant secretary of "The Scam Relief Fund Initiative". The letter states that the "department of information" found the recipient through "deep-in Algorithmic sourced" data. Hence, they have been chosen as a beneficiary of this initiative.

Individuals are selected as financial relief receivers because they have previously fallen victim to a romance or business oriented scam. The email recipient is urged to contact the nonexistent initiative and receive compensation in the amount of 1.6 million USD.

As mentioned in the introduction, all the claims made by this letter are false, and this mail is not associated with any real individuals or entities.

In most instances, scams of this kind target private information and/or money. Data of interest can include ID card details, passport scans/photos, online bank log-in credentials, banking account information, debit/credit card numbers, and so forth.

Personally identifiable data may be used to steal victims' identities or carry out other nefarious deeds. While finance-related information can be used to facilitate unauthorized transactions or online purchases.

Victims may be lured into transferring funds to scammers under the guise of paying taxes or fees for document preparations, transactions, etc. Cyber criminals rely on difficult-to-trace methods for acquiring money, primarily – dubious payment gateways, cryptocurrencies, gift cards, prepaid vouchers, or cash hidden in innocent-looking parcels and shipped.

In summary, by trusting an email like "Scam Relief Fund Initiative" – users may experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

If you have already disclosed your personally identifiable or finance-related information to scammers – immediately contact the appropriate authorities.

Threat Summary:
Name "Scam Relief Fund Initiative" spam email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient can receive 1.7 million USD from the "Scam Relief Fund Initiative".
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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Spam campaigns in general

Spam campaigns are used to promote various scams. Commonly used false claims include those relating to inheritances, lotteries, philanthropic efforts, account issues (e.g., suspicious activity, security upgrades, password renewals, etc.), subscription expirations, refunds, and so forth.

While the mechanics of these scams can differ greatly, the end goal is the same – to generate revenue at victims' expense. Furthermore, spam mail is used to distribute trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malware.

We have examined thousands of spam emails; "Email Account Will Expire", "UnitedHealthcare", "KYC (Know Your Customer) Verification", "Unclaimed Expensive Goods", "Account(s) Lost IMAP/POP3 Coverage", "Yamaha Baby Grand Piano", and "MINISTÉRIO PUBLICO PORTUGAL" are just some of our latest finds.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Cyber criminals often use spam campaigns to proliferate malware. Deceptive emails/messages include malicious files as attachments or download links. The files come in various formats, e.g., documents (PDF, Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, etc.), archives (ZIP, RAR, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), JavaScript, and so on.

Once an infectious file is opened – the malware download/installation chain is triggered. Some formats can require additional user interaction to jumpstart these processes. For example, Microsoft Office files need users to enable macro commands (i.e., editing/content), while OneNote documents require them to click on embedded links or files.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We strongly advise treating incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages with caution. Attachments or links found in dubious mail must not be opened, as they can be virulent. We recommend using post-2010 Microsoft Office versions since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro command execution.

It must be mentioned that malware is not spread only through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise being careful while browsing, as fraudulent and dangerous online content typically appears genuine and harmless.

Another recommendation is to download only from official and verified channels. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated by using legitimate functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updaters can contain malware.

It is paramount for device and user safety to have a dependable anti-virus installed and kept up-to-date. Security software must be used to perform 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 "Scam Relief Fund Initiative" spam email letter:

Subject: Greetings


We sincerely appreciate the fact that you were able to be contacted.
From the desk of the secretary; (The Scam Relief Fund Initiative) ,Los Angeles, California you’re being informed that through our deep-in Algorithmic sourced information from the department of information of the United States of America herein been chosen as a beneficiary of the (Scam Relief Fund Initiative)..

As a beneficiary of this scheme ,if you’ve made any reports about a fraud case ,Of being an Online Romance scam victim or a business scam victim to any security Authorities in or outside of the USA (FBI,HOMELAND,POLICE OR INTERPOL) in the past, also if you’ve been a victim of such circumstances but resist to make any entry or report of such case because of ,Guilt, shame ,threat or fears, you are hereby asked to humbly reply to this email to be part of this essential and profitable scheme.

With some evidence or testimony you’re entitled to be compensated by the sum of one million, seven hundred thousand United States dollars by the(Scam Relief fund initiative) .Please reply asap
to continue the process of getting your lost funds/Money retrieved and returned to you easily…
Dr. Joy Nez
(Ass. Secretary,TSRFIP ,LA)

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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, even if they include details relevant to the recipients. Cyber criminals distribute this mail by the thousand with the hopes that at least some recipients will fall for their scams.

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 possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support. And if you've disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) – contact the appropriate authorities without delay.

I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?

Systems are infected when malicious attachments or links are opened/clicked; merely reading an email poses no such threat.

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, .one, .pdf, etc.). These formats may require additional interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking embedded files/links, etc.) – to jumpstart malware download/installation processes.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is designed to detect and eliminate all manner of threats. It is capable of removing practically all known malware infections. Note that since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems – performing a full system scan is essential.

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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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