Email claims that staff members were sent the wrong paychecks by mistake and suggest that you open an attached file to retrieve your correct check.
The email is not legitimate and the attachment does not contain a paycheck. Instead, the attached .zip file harbours a malicious file that, if opened, can download and install malware on your computer.
Subject: wrong paychecks
Hey [name removed]. They send us the wrong paychecks. Attached is your paycheck arrived to my email by mistake.Please send mine back too.
According to this email, which may appear at first glance to be from another staff member in your organisation, workers have been sent the wrong paycheck by mistake. The person named as the sender has supposedly attached your paycheck and asks that you send her check back in return.
The email may use the first part of your email address as a greeting. So, if your email address contains your name, it may appear that the email is addressing you by name and must therefore be from someone who knows you.
However, the email is not from a fellow staff member and the attachment does not contain any paycheck. Instead, opening the attachment can lead to a malware infection.
The criminals responsible for this attack hope that at least a few busy office workers will open the attachment without due care and attention.
If you do open the attached .zip file, you will find that it contains another file hidden inside, If you then click this hidden file, it may not appear to do anything. But, in fact, it may be downloading and installing malware without you realising.
The malware installed may be ransomware, which can encrypt the files on your computer and then demand that you pay a fee to online criminals to get an unlock key. Or, the malware may steal sensitive information such as banking passwords from your computer.
If you receive one of these emails, do not open any attachments or click any links that it contains.
Last updated: October 7, 2016
First published: October 7, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen