Avoid getting scammed by fake emails searching for an overseas partner

Also Known As: "Overseas Partner" spam email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of email is "Overseas Partner"?

After we read the "Overseas Partner" email, it became evident that this is spam. The sender seeks an "overseas partner" to transfer over eleven million USD to their bank account, 35% of which the recipient can keep. This scam email likely aims to deceive users into disclosing highly sensitive information or sending money to cyber criminals.

Overseas Partner email spam campaign

"Overseas Partner" email scam overview

The spam email with the subject "I want to Invest" (may vary) is supposedly from a Japanese woman living in the UK because of her cancer treatment. The supposed sender is searching for an overseas partner.

The partner is to be sent $11,745,358.00 to their personal bank account. The recipient is reassured of the legitimacy of these funds. The sender and their colleagues have agreed to allow the recipient to keep 35% of the transferred funds. The first remittance will be $500,000.00 as a means to test the recipient's loyalty and trustworthiness. If the recipient attempts to use these funds, they will be transferred back to the sender.

As mentioned in the introduction, this email is fake, as is all of the information provided by it. Spam mail of this kind typically targets vulnerable data and/or money.

Recipients may be deceived into disclosing personally identifiable information (e.g., ID card details, passport photos/scans, etc.) or finance-related data (e.g., banking account details, online bank log-in credentials, credit/debit card numbers, etc.).

Victims can also be enticed to send funds to scammers under the guise of taxes, transaction or storage fees, etc. Cyber criminals rely on difficult-to-trace methods to acquire money, as that diminishes the chances of successful prosecution and fund retrieval. Some examples of these methods include digital currencies, gift cards, pre-paid vouchers, and cash hidden in innocuous-looking packages and shipped.

To summarize, victims of scam mail like "Overseas Partner" can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and identity theft.

If you have already disclosed personally identifiable or finance-related data – immediately contact the appropriate authorities. And in the case you have provided your log-in credentials to scammers – change the passwords of all possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name "Overseas Partner" spam email
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Sender is looking for an overseas partner to send 11 million USD, 35% of which the recipient can keep.
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

We have investigated thousands of deceptive emails; "Confirm Hotel Bank Account", "Urgent Requirement For The Supply", "You Are Now On The Radar Of An International Group Of Hackers", "Discover Card Payment On Hold", and "ShareFile - Invoice Copy" are just some of our newest articles on spam campaigns.

Various scams are promoted using this mail, and it is also utilized in malware distribution. These letters are often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. However, they may also be competently made and even believably disguised as messages from legitimate companies, organizations, institutions, service providers, authorities, and other entities.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam campaigns proliferate malware by distributing malicious files as attachments or download links. Infectious files come in various formats, e.g., archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), executables (.exe, .run, etc.), documents (PDF, Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, etc.), JavaScript, and so on.

Once opened, a malicious file triggers the malware download/installation chain. Some formats can require extra actions to jumpstart system infection processes. For example, Microsoft Office files need users to enable macros commands (i.e., editing/content), while OneNote documents require them to click embedded links or files.

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is essential to treat incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages with care. Attachments or links present in dubious mail must not be opened, as they can be malicious.

It must be mentioned that malware is not distributed only via spam mail. Therefore, we also recommend vigilance when browsing, as fraudulent and dangerous online content typically appears legitimate and innocuous.

Another recommendation is to download only from official and trustworthy channels. We also advise activating and updating software by using genuine functions/tools, as illegal activation ("cracking") tools and third-party updates may contain malware.

We must stress that having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated is paramount to device integrity and user safety. Security programs must be used to run 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 "Overseas Partner" email letter:

Subject: Re: I want to Invest

Dear Hello,

I need you as an Overseas Partner in a financial transaction worth. (US$11,745,358.00) if you have a Personal Bank Account and not Company's Bank Account. A Bank Account that only you control. This amount is not from illegal funds (drug funds, money laundering funds, illegal firearms funds, illegal gambling funds) but from an
Over-invoicing of a (Contract Projects) already completed and full payment made to the Original Contractor leaving out this. (US$11,745,358.00) which we are seeking for your cooperation shall be legally remitted into that Bank Account for our mutual benefits. My colleagues and I have agreed to give you 35% of the total amount at
the conclusion of the transaction within (7) days.

I was diagnosed with cancer three month ago and I can't continue my business, i'm from Japan but now in the UK for treatment.

The process is that you will act as our Overseas Partner, we shall, process and remit first $500,000.00 into that Bank Account to test your loyalty and trustworthiness. If you do not (sit tight) on the remitted $500,000.00 then the balance will be remitted immediately.

Write back if you are interested on this email: ra4278741@gmail.com

Mrs. Kaori ICHIKAWA.

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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?

Spam emails are not personal, even if they include details relevant to the recipients. This mail is distributed in large-scale operations – hence, 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 log-in credentials – change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support. However, if the disclosed information was of a different personal nature (e.g., ID card details, passport photos/scans, credit card numbers, etc.) – immediately contact the corresponding authorities.

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; merely reading an email poses no infection 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 – your device was infected. However, you might have avoided this if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .one, .pdf, etc.). These formats may need extra actions (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking embedded files/links, etc.) to begin downloading/installing malware.

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is designed to remove all kinds of threats. It is capable of detecting and eliminating most of the known malware infections. Note that performing a complete system scan is key since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems.

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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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