This example is today’s latest spoof or imitation of a well-known company, bank or public authority delivering Trickbot banking Trojan. The email with the subject of “RE: Reference Number: 20515522” pretends to come from HMRC Business VAT Reclaim but actually comes from “email@example.com” which is a look-a-like, typo-squatted or other domain that can easily be misidentified, mistaken or confused with the genuine site. These all have a malicious office file attachment.
HMRC has not been hacked or had their email or other servers compromised. They are not sending the emails to you. They are just innocent victims in exactly the same way as every recipient of these emails.
What has happened is that the criminals sending these have registered various domains that look like the genuine Company, Bank, Government Department or message sending service. Normally there is only one newly registered domain that imitates a well known Company, Government Department, Bank or other organisation that can easily be confused with the genuine body or website in some way. These are hosted on & send the emails from 3 or 4 different servers. Some days however we do see dozens or even hundreds of fake domains.
Today’s example of the spoofed domain is, as usual, registered via Godaddy as registrar. Because of new GDPR rules we cannot easily find the registrants name or any further details.
- hmrc-vat.co.uk hosted on & sending emails via 126.96.36.199| 188.8.131.52|184.108.40.206|220.127.116.11|
You can now submit suspicious sites, emails and files via our Submissions system
From: HMRC Business VAT Reclaim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue 23/10/2018 12:58
Subject: RE: Reference Number: 20515522
VAT – reclaiming, records and returns
23 October, 2018
HMRC Reference Number: 20515522
Client Reference: IDS00038182991
Our records indicate that you have failed to resolve the matter of your outstanding amount, to the sum of £34,418.87 for VAT.
We issued strict instructions to recover the full amount owed. Please check included copies to this email, as a matter of urgency.
If you do not take action to resolve this matter we may review your account and consider further enforcement action. Note that any enforcement action may result in any fees and costs incured during a successful enforcement being added to your account. These costs would be in action to statutory interests where applicable. We may decide to seize your goods as the law allows and will not hesitate to enforce any judgment they are awarded by the courts.
Head of VAT reclaming
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If you think that an email is suspicious please report it to email@example.com. For more information please visit our security pages at GOV.UK and search ‘Avoid and report internet scams and phishing’.
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Please feel free to use this information and pass it on.
For more information and support from HMRC please visit our help and support pages.
This malware doc file downloads from http://southjerseylawfirm.com/ne.cros which is a renamed .exe file VirusTotal
The alternate Download location is http://schulenburgprinting.com/ne.cros
The folder for the files & configs is: C:\Users\[User]\AppData\Roaming\WSOG
All modern versions of word and other office programs, that is 2010, 2013, 2016 and 365, should open all Microsoft office documents that is Word docs, Excel spreadsheet files and PowerPoint etc that are downloaded from the web or received in an email automatically in “protected view” that stops any embedded malware, macros and DDE “exploit /Feature” and embedded ole objects from being displayed and running. Make sure protected view is set in all office programs to protect you and your company from these sorts of attacks and do not over ride it to edit the document. If the protected mode bar appears when opening the document DO NOT follow the advice they give to enable macros or enable editing to see the content. The document will have a warning message, but you will be safe.
Be aware that there are a lot of other dodgy word docs spreading that WILL infect you with no action from you, if you are still using an out dated or vulnerable version of word. This is a good reason to update your office programs to a recent version and stop using office 2003 and 2007. Many of us have continued to use older versions of word and other office programs, because they are convenient, have the functions and settings we are used to and have never seen a need to update to the latest super-duper version.
The risks in using older version are now seriously outweighing the convenience, benefits and cost of keeping an old version going.
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. Also please read our post about word macro malware and how to avoid being infected by them
I strongly urge you to update your office software to the latest version and stop putting yourself at risk, using old out of date software.
Email from: firstname.lastname@example.org