Spoofed IRS Urgent Notification Malspam Delivers Ransomware

Office Macro Malware

Continuing with the never ending series of malware downloaders is an email with the subject of IRS Urgent Notification coming or pretending to come from Dick Richardson who pretends to be an IRS Tax Officer. I have seen dozens of these and they all come from random email addresses. Dick Richardson changes his job in different emails. Sometimes he is a tax officer or a Tax Specialist or Tax department manager as well as an official representative

These must obviously be aimed at US recipients because The UK does not have an IRS service, we have HMRC. But after following the link and downloading the zip file, you are redirected to the UK gov.uk home page. Anyway, this looks like some sort of ransomware from the virustotal reports, but I am not 100% sure which one.

Update: I am reliably informed this is Shade/ Troldesh ransomware

Other subjects include:

  • Realty Tax Arrears – IRS
  • Please Note – IRS Urgent Message
  • IRS Urgent Message
  • Overdue on Realty Tax

 

They use 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 is another one of the files that unless you have “show known file extensions enabled“, can easily be mistaken for a genuine DOC / PDF / JPG or other common files instead of the .EXE / .JS file it really is, so making it much more likely for you to accidentally open it and be infected.

Realty.tax.division.xls.zip: Extracts to: Realty.tax.division.xls.js Current Virus total detections: Payload Security shows a download from www.metropolisbangkok.com/assets/70958ae0/fonts/gcdf/templates/winscr.exe ( VirusTotal)

One of the emails looks like:

From: Dick Richardson <electric@oceanicresources.co.uk>

Date: Thu 01/09/2021 19:22

Subject: IRS Urgent Notification

Attachment: link in email

Body content:

Dear Citizen,

My name is Dick Richardson, I am the official representative of the Internal Revenue Service, Realty Tax Department.

My office is responsible for notification of citizens, description of the tax system for them, supporting citizens on issues related to tax

procedures, arrears, and payments, etc.

In the present case, I have to notify you that you have the considerable tax arrears pertaining to your property. More specifically, there

is the tax debt for your realty – the realty tax. Generally, we make no actions in case of such delays for 4-6 months, but in your context,

the overdue period comes to 7 months. Thereby, we must take relevant measures to remedy the situation.

Particularly for your convenience, our specialists have made the full and comprehensive report for you. It contains the full information

regarding realty tax accrual, your debt (including the total amount), and the chart of overdue payments for each month of the arrears

period.

Please download the report directly from the official server of the IRS, going to the link:

http://radiotunes.co.uk/wp-content/plugins/simple-social-icons/index0.html

Please study the document at the earliest possible moment. Actually, after receiving this message, you have only 1 day to contact your tax

manager and provide them with the information you get in the report in order to resolve the problem. Differently, significant charges and

fines may apply.

Best Regards,

Dick Richardson,

Realty Tax Division

Internal Revenue Service

There are loads of other sites in the body of alternative emails downloading the .js file. Some include:

  • http://regiohosted.be/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/index0.html
  • http://mhdcomunicacao.com.br/wp-content/plugins/wp-mail-smtp/index0.html
  • http://streamdecal.net/wp-content/plugins/revslider/index0.html
  • http://recipes.howtotube.com/wp-content/plugins/td-social-counter/index0.html
  • http://starsworldwide.org/wp-content/themes/metro-te/index0.html
  • http://furlingtonpost.com/wp-content/plugins/easy-video-gallery-responsive-html5/index0.html
  • http://soyvoluntarioabanca.com/index0.html
  • http://othevents.altervista.org/wp-content/plugins/insert/index0.html
  • http://yacollege.org/wp-content/plugins/arforms/index0.html
  • http://novateatoxdetoks.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-cron2/index0.html
  • http://lemeesurseine.cogima.ca/wp-content/plugins/insert/index0.html
  • http://mengapasayakeluardarisyiah.info/wp/wp-content/plugins/insert/index0.html

 

So far I am seeing very few duplicated download sites. I have received almost 250 copies of this, so there are a lot of compromised sites being used in this malspam run delivering ransomware

All these malicious emails are either designed to steal your Passwords, Bank, PayPal or other financial details along with your email or FTP ( web space) log in credentials. Or they are Ransomware versions that encrypt your files and demand large sums of money to recover the files.

All the alleged senders, amounts, reference numbers, Bank codes, companies, names of employees, employee positions, email addresses and phone numbers mentioned in the emails are all 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.

There are frequently dozens or even hundreds of different download locations, sometimes delivering the exactly same malware from all locations and sometimes slightly different malware versions from each one. Dridex, Locky and many other malwares do update at frequent intervals during the day, sometimes as quickly as every hour, so you might get a different version of these nasty Ransomware or Banking password stealer Trojans to the version we list here.

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. Many 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, or an invoice or order confirmation from some company, you can easily see if it is a picture or document & not a malicious program.

If you see .JS or .EXE or .COM or .PIF or .SCR or .HTA .vbs, .wsf , .jse .jar 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 a guaranteed way to get infected. The best way is to just delete the unexpected zip and not risk any infection.

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