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Fake Maersk Line Shipping Documents Email Links to Malware

by Brett M. Christensen

This email, which purports to be from container shipping company Maersk Line, claims that you can open an attached file to view original shipping documents supposedly related to a consignment that is being shipped to you. 

However, the email is not from Maersk Line and has no connection to the company.  And, the attachments do not open any shipping documents.

Here is what the initial malware email looks like:

Maersk Shipping Documents Malware Email

If you click the HTML attachment, it will open in your default browser and will attempt to automatically download a Microsoft Word document:

HTML Malware Attachment

If you click the PDF attachment,  a supposedly “secure or protected” file will open in your PDF reader. The blurred out background may seem like a genuine shipping document at first glance.  You will be prompted to click a link to unlock the full PDF. However, clicking the link again downloads a Microsoft word file:

Bogus PDF links to Malware

Regardless of which attachment you open, you will end up with the same Word file. When you try to open the Word file, you will then be told that you must enable macros before you can view the file’s contents. But, if you do enable macros, a malicious macro will then download and install further malware.  

The malware that the macro downloads may be ransomware that locks up all of the files on your computer and then demands a fee for the unlock code.  Or, the malware may be designed to steal sensitive information such as banking passwords from your computer and sent it to online criminals.

The criminals responsible for distributing these scam emails hope that at least a few recipients will download the file either out of curiosity or concern. Even if they are not expecting any consignment and have had no dealings with Maersk Line. And, alas, many people will download the files and infect their computers with malware.

Malware campaigns like this are very common and use the names of many different companies around the world to make their false claims seem more plausible.

Read More About Macro Malware

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,