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Scareware scammers now phishing for punters

Blocked credit card spam scam

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Scareware scammers are targeting credit card users with a new run of spam emails falsely warning recipients that their plastic has been blocked.

The fraudulent emails, which resemble those more commonly seen in phishing or banking Trojan attacks, are fairly detailed and attempt to trick prospective marks into opening an attached file. This file – which supposedly contains information on why a card has been blocked – executes a program that runs silently on users' PCs, downloading a rogue anti-virus package.

Users will then be served with fake warnings designed to trick them into purchasing software of little or no utility. In some cases this rogue anti-virus disables security packages and also connects to a botnet of compromised PCs.

It is far more common for such scareware packages to be punted by manipulating search results for items in the news so that scareware portals appear prominently in the results, so the latest phishing-style approach represents a change of gear by fake anti-virus slingers.

The timing of the scam could be significant, according to Websense, which warns internet users to disregard supposed warnings received via email.

"People worried about being away without a card that works, or afraid their card info was leaked in one of the many data breaches that has hit the news lately, may lower their guard and click on the attachment," said Amon Sanniez, a security researcher at Websense Security Labs. "Please use extra caution when clicking on email links or attachments, particularly if they claim to be from your bank. Calling the number on the back of your card is a safer way to check if your card has been blocked."

Websense has a detailed write-up of the scam, complete with screenshots, here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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