HMRC Application – Fake PDF Malware

spotting malware

HMRC Application – [ your domain name] pretending to come from <>with a zip attachment is another one from the current bot runs which try to download various Trojans and password stealers especially banking credential stealers, which may include cridex, dridex, dyreza and various Zbots, cryptolocker, ransomware and loads of other malware on your computer. They are using email addresses and subjects that will entice a user to read the email and open the attachment.

A very high proportion are being targeted at small and medium size businesses, with the hope of getting a better response than they do from consumers.

This template was used in a malware run back in July 2014 and gets periodically reused HMRC Application – fake PDF malware

Almost all of these also have a password stealing component, with the aim of stealing your bank, PayPal or other financial details along with your email or FTP ( web space) log in credentials. Many of them are also designed to specifically steal your Facebook and other social network log in details.

All the alleged senders, companies, names of employees and phone numbers mentioned in the emails are all innocent and are just picked at random. Some of these companies will exist and some won’t. Don’t try to respond by phone or email, all you will do is end up with an innocent person or company who have had their details spoofed and picked at random from a long list that the bad guys have previously found.

The bad guys choose companies, Government departments and organisations with subjects that are designed to entice you or alarm you into blindly opening the attachment or clicking the link in the email to see what is happening.

Please read our How to protect yourselves page for simple, sensible advice on how to avoid being infected by this sort of socially engineered malware.

The email looks like:

Please print this information, sign and send to

Date Created: 22 January 2021

Business name:

Acknowledgement reference: 3213476

VAT Registration Number is 3213476.

Repayment of Input Tax

Before the business starts to make taxable supplies they may provisionally claim repayment of VAT they are charged as input tax. The general rules about VAT, including Input Tax, Partial Exemption, are explained in VAT Notices 700 and 706, available on the HMRC website

Repayment of VAT as input tax is subject to the condition, provided for by the Value Added Tax Act 1994, Section 25(6), that HMRC may require them to refund some or all of the input tax they have claimed, if they do not make taxable supplies by way of business, or the input tax they claimed prior to a period in which they make taxable supplies in the course of business does not relate to the taxable supplies they make.

Change of Circumstances

If your client no longer intends to make taxable supplies, or there is any other change of circumstances affecting their VAT registration (including any delay in starting to make taxable supplies), they must notify HMRC within 30 days of the change.

If the application included an enquiry about:

the Flat Rate Scheme

the Annual Accounting Scheme

an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number

HMRC will send your client more information about this separately

What next?

Your client will receive their Certificate of Registration (VAT4) in the post in due course.

Your client can find general information about VAT and a guide to record keeping requirements by following one of the links below.

General information about VAT

Keeping records for business

By law, your client must send their VAT returns to HMRC online and make any payments due electronically.

Before they can submit VAT returns to HMRC online they’ll have to enrol for the VAT online service. Further information on how to do this can be found on the HMRC website

If you will be completing and submitting the online VAT returns on your client’s behalf, you will have to enrol for the VAT for Agents online service and be authorised to act as their agent before you can do this.

If you will be completing and submitting the online VAT returns on your client’s behalf, you will have to enrol for the VAT for Agents online service and be authorised to act as their agent before you can do this.

If your client uses someone other than the person who is authorised to submit VAT returns online to do their books, such as a tax advisor or agent and they are happy for them to speak to HMRC on their behalf, your client must authorise them to do so. Your client will need to complete and send a form 64-8 Authorising Your Agent to HMRC. To download a copy of the form, follow the link below.

22 January 2021: ( 15 kb) : Extracts to: Application_891724.pdf.exe Current Virus total detections: 2/56

This is another one of the spoofed icon files that unless you have “show known file extensions enabled“, will look like a proper PDF file instead of the .exe file it really is, so making it much more likely for you to accidentally open it and be infected.

Be very careful with email attachments. All of these emails use Social engineering tricks to persuade you to open the attachments that come with the email. Whether it is a message saying “look at this picture of me I took last night” and it appears to come from a friend or is more targeted at somebody who regularly is likely to receive PDF attachments or Word .doc attachments or any other common file that you use every day.

The basic rule is NEVER open any attachment to an email, unless you are expecting it. Now that is very easy to say but quite hard to put into practice, because we all get emails with files attached to them. Our friends and family love to send us pictures of them doing silly things, or even cute pictures of the children or pets.

Never just blindly click on the file in your email program. Always save the file to your downloads folder, so you can check it first. Most ( if not all) malicious files that are attached to emails will have a faked extension. That is the 3 letters at the end of the file name.

Unfortunately windows by default hides the file extensions so you need to Set your folder options to “show known file types. Then when you unzip the zip file that is supposed to contain the pictures of “Sally’s dog catching a ball” or a report in word document format that work has supposedly sent you to finish working on at the weekend, you can easily see if it is a picture or document & not a malicious program. If you see .EXE or .COM or .PIF or .SCR at the end of the file name DO NOT click on it or try to open it, it will infect you.

While the malicious program is inside the zip file, it cannot harm you or automatically run. When it is just sitting unzipped in your downloads folder it won’t infect you, provided you don’t click it to run it. Just delete the zip and any extracted file and everything will be OK.

You can always run a scan with your antivirus to be sure. There are some zip files that can be configured by the bad guys to automatically run the malware file when you double click the zip to extract the file. If you right click any suspicious zip file received, and select extract here or extract to folder ( after saving the zip to a folder on the computer) that risk is virtually eliminated.

Never attempt to open a zip directly from your email, that is guaranteed way to get infected. The best way is to just delete the unexpected zip and not risk any infection.

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