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Avoid getting scammed by fake emails alerting of inbox sync failure

Also Known As: "Email Failed To Sync" phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Email Failed To Sync"?

"Email Failed To Sync" is a spam email that promotes a phishing scam. This fake letter states that the recipient has pending messages that failed to reach their inbox. When a user attempts to review the nonexistent emails, they are redirected to a phishing website that targets log-in credentials.

Email Failed To Sync email spam campaign

"Email Failed To Sync" email scam overview

The spam email with the subject "You have (7) undelivered/pending mails" (may vary) informs the recipient that their inbox failed to sync at a specified date. Due to this error, multiple incoming messages failed to reach them. The recipient is urged to click the "REVIEW MESSAGES" button below to check the pending emails and choose what to do with them (i.e., allow them into the inbox, delete them, etc.).

As mentioned in the introduction, this email is fake, and it is in no way associated with any legitimate service providers or other entities.

By following the instructions provided in this letter, the user is redirected to a phishing site that imitates their email sign-in page. Attempts to access the account through this fraudulent webpage expose its log-in credentials (i.e., password).

Not only can the scammers steal the email, but they may also gain access to the accounts/platforms registered through it. To expand some on the potential misuse, cyber criminals can steal the identities of account owners (e.g., emails, social networking/media, messengers, chats, etc.) and request loans or donations from the contacts/friends/followers, endorse scams, and proliferate malware by sharing malicious links or files.

Furthermore, sensitive content discovered on compromised data storage or similar platforms could be used for blackmail or other nefarious purposes. What is more, hijacked finance-related accounts (e.g., online banking, money transferring, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to facilitate fraudulent transactions and online purchases.

In summary, victims of scam mail like "Email Failed To Sync" may experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft.

If you have already disclosed your log-in credentials – immediately change the passwords of all potentially exposed accounts and contact their official support.

Threat Summary:
Name "Email Failed To Sync" phishing email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Emails failed to reach the inbox due to a syncing error.
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

"Account Shutdown Notification", "Mailbox Flagged For Unusual-Activities", "Removal Of Mail ID", and "cPanel Mail Server IMAP/POP3 Error" are merely a few examples of phishing emails we have examined recently.

Spam mail is used to promote various scams and even to spread malware. The commonly held belief that these deceptive emails are full of spelling and grammatical mistakes is not exclusively true. Spam letters may be competently made and believably disguised as messages from legitimate service providers, companies, organizations, institutions, authorities, and other entities.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns are commonly utilized in malware distribution. These emails/messages can include malicious files as attachments or download links. The files can be archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), documents (Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, PDF, etc.), JavaScript, and so forth.

Once such a file is opened – the infection chain is triggered. Some formats may require additional user interaction to initiate malware download/installation processes. For example, Microsoft Office files need users to enable macro commands (i.e., editing/content), while OneNote documents require them to click embedded files/links.

How to avoid installation of malware?

We highly recommend treating incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages with caution. Do not open the attachments or links present in dubious/irrelevant mail, as they can be virulent. It is important to use post-2010 Microsoft Office versions since their "Protected View" mode prevents automatic macro execution.

Note that malware is not proliferated only through spam mail. Therefore, we also advise vigilance when browsing, as fraudulent and malicious online content typically appears genuine and harmless.

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

We must emphasize that having a dependable anti-virus installed and kept updated is paramount to device and user safety. 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 "Email Failed To Sync" spam email letter:

Subject: You have (7) undelivered/pending mails


Dear client,


We noticed that your email failed to sync messages to your inbox as of 3/16/2024 4:32:11 a.m...


This is due to a server error on your mailbox.


Review these messages and choose what happens to them.


REVIEW MESSAGES

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted by the "Email Failed To Sync" spam campaign:

Email Failed To Sync scam email promoted phishing site

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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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?

Regardless of any relevant details that they may include, spam emails are not personal. Cyber criminals distribute this mail in massive operations – therefore, 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 account credentials – change the passwords of all possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support. And if you've 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?

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

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

Whether the system was compromised might depend on the format of the opened file. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes. However, you might have avoided triggering an infection if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .pdf, .one, etc.). These formats may need extra actions to jumpstart malware download/installation chains (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking embedded content, etc.).

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is designed to detect and eliminate all kinds of threats. It is capable of removing practically all known malware infections. Keep in mind that since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems – performing a complete 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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