How to identify fake investment offers like "Crude Oil Trade"

Also Known As: Crude Oil Trade investment scam
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "Crude Oil Trade"?

We have inspected the email and concluded that it is a scam offering recipients an investment opportunity. Typically, fraudsters behind such emails aim to extract money and (or) personal information from unsuspecting individuals. This and similar emails should be ignored.

Crude Oil Trade email spam campaign

More about the "Crude Oil Trade" scam email

The sender claims to be a procurement supervisor for an oil refinery company in Malaysia and offers the recipient an opportunity to act as a broker or mediator for a large-scale crude oil purchase deal with the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Libya. The sender promises substantial commissions ranging from $4 million to $6 million monthly for 12 months.

The sender claims that, due to company policy, they are unable to participate directly in the financial dealings and seek a "trustworthy" individual (the recipient) to act as a middleman. However, this whole offer is a scam.

Recipients should not respond to such unsolicited emails, as they are attempts to deceive them into providing personal information or making payments/monetary transactions (e.g., paying fake administration fees or taxes). Scammers behind such emails request various types of personal and financial information from their victims.

Usually, they aim to extract names, surnames, social security numbers, dates of birth, phone numbers, etc. They also seek to obtain bank account details, credit card numbers, passwords, and other information that can be exploited for identity theft, fraud, or unauthorized access to accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Crude Oil Trade Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipients have the opportunity to earn a large sum of money (millions)
Disguise Letter from a procurement supervisor for an oil refinery company Malaysia
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

Typically, emails like the one described in our article offer to invest money and promise high financial rewards with minimal effort. They also tend to create a sense of urgency. Scammers use such emails to extract money or information. It is important to note that fraudulent emails can be used as channels to distribute malicious programs.

Examples of scam emails are "Your Password Changed", "Virus Activities Were Detected", and "PayPal Crypto Purchase Invoice".

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Threat actors behind emails crafted to trick recipients into infecting computers contain malicious attachments or links. Recipients can infect computers by opening websites designed to download malware on their computers or running attached executables or other files. However, opening a malicious file does not always result in immediate malware infiltration.

For instance, malicious MS Office documents can infect computers after users enable macros commands, and archive files cannot inject malware unless users open their contents (activate malware).

How to avoid installation of malware?

Download applications and files exclusively from official websites and app stores. Avoid relying on other sources, such as unofficial pages, peer-to-peer networks, third-party download managers, etc., particularly those offering pirated software, key generators, cracking tools, and similar. Refrain from engaging with advertisements and pop-ups displayed on suspicious websites.

Exercise caution when handling emails containing attachments or links. Avoid interacting with the contents of unsolicited or unexpected emails from unfamiliar senders. Routinely scan your computer for threats and ensure that both the operating system and installed programs are always up to date.

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 "Crude Oil Trade" email letter:

Subject: Crude Oil trade

Invitation to tender (Crude Oil trade).


I greet you with warm regards. I work for Malaysia Oil Refinery Sdn Bhd Company as a procurement supervisor; Malaysia Oil Refinery Sdn Bhd is an Oil refining Company situated in South East Asia. On my desk is a mandate to arrange for Crude Oil purchase from the National Oil Corporation (NOC), from the state of Libya for up to 2,000,000 barrels on monthly basis for 12 calendar months.
The reason for my reaching out to you is because am in the process of establishing a broker/mediator or a middle man structure to mediate between the 2 parties involved (our Company and the Company in Libya) before the contract is signed. You may be wondering why I cannot do it myself. The honest fact is that as an employee working for this company, it is against our company's operational ethics/policy for an employee to be involved or profit in any financial dealings with our Company hence I am looking for a trustworthy person outside my work circle in order to maintain a discreet profile.
I wish to extend this partnership to you my friend to build a broker/mediator or a middle man structure with you while I work from the background to guide you. Our company pays between $2 - $3 per barrel as the commission/brokerage amount so if the target of 2Million barrels is met monthly we stand to share $4Million - $6Million every month for 12 months.

Contact me if you are interested in this deal so that I can give you further details.
Mohd Azzanuddin Bin Syed
Procurement Supervisor
Crude Oil & Products Trading Division
Malaysia oil Refinery Sdn Bhd
Email: mohdazzanuddinbinsyed@gmail.com

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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?

You likely received a scam email as part of a widespread attempt by cybercriminals to deceive individuals into providing personal information or financial details or to engage in fraudulent activities. Emails of this kind are not personal; they rarely include the recipient's name or other details.

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

If you have provided your financial information (e.g., banking details or credit card info), contact your bank. If you have shared passwords or similar info, change the passwords of compromised accounts as soon as possible. In case you have disclosed ID card information, contact the relevant authorities.

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

It depends on the type of the opened file. Usually, malicious executables infiltrate malware upon being executed. Other files, like MS Office documents, often require additional actions like enabling macros commands.

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

It is rarely possible to retrieve cryptocurrency lost due to scams. Such transcations are irreversible.

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

No, your computer is not infected. Opening an email without clicking links or opening attached files is safe.

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

Yes, this tool can detect almost all known malware. It is important to run a full system scan to detect and remove high-end malware from infected computers, as malware of this kind usually hides deep in the system.

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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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