Fake Email

fake-email-with-word-attachmentFake Email: a reader asks…

I received an email in my Outlook inbox that I’m not sure what to do with. I’ve attached a screenshot of it and forwarded you a copy of the email. Any advice?

First things first, do not open the file attachment! Unless you are already doing business with JMA Architects (supposedly the sender of the email based on the From address) and expecting them to send you something, this is 100% a scam. Your best bet is to delete the email. The email talks about an expense request and asks you to “review and dispute/agree the deductions”. Very scammy sounding…

I took a (safe) look at the email you forwarded. Opening the email shows a Word document attachment that when opened, runs MS Word which shows a blurry document, along with a button (from MS Word) to enable editing. Likely it contains a poisoned macro which could infect your computer.


fake-email-word-attachmentBut besides that, the document shows what looks like a blurred-out invoice or report with images to “View” the “PDF”. Hovering over that link shows that clicking it would take you to a webpage (at tecta.info) that would most-likely infect your computer. This is just one of the thousands of ways that scammers attempt to trick you into infecting your own computer.

My general advice is to never click on hyperlinks in emails unless you know the sender and are expecting them to send you such a link. Also, never open file attachments, particularly from someone you don’t know personally IRL. These have been common ways for virus and malware infections to spread.

Particularly around the holidays, but can crop up anytime are lots of variations on fake emails from various entities. In the 2017 holiday season I saw an especially large volume of fake gift cards or vouchers that appear to come from Amazon, Sam’s Club, Paypal, CVS, Macy’s, Walmart and other merchants. You should never trust anything that’s offered to you for free, especially via unsolicited email. I expect in 2018 we will see an exponential rise in such scam attempts, with the scammers getting more and more sophisticated, and with the emails looking very authentic (but still fake).

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