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Fake Sign-In Notification Emails Link to Phishing Websites

by Brett M. Christensen

A rather clever phishing email currently hitting inboxes attempts to emulate the genuine “new sign-in” security warnings sent out by email service providers.

As with other types of phishing, the scam emails are designed to steal your personal information.

Genuine “New Sign-In” Notifications

If you login to your email account from a new browser or device, you may receive a security notification asking if it was really you that logged in. The purpose of these notifications is to alert you as quickly as possible if your account has been compromised.

If you receive such a message and you didn’t recently login from a new browser or device, then it may mean that an unauthorised person has accessed your account. If that is the case, you can take steps to secure or recover your account.

As an example, here’s a screenshot of a genuine new sign-in security notification from Google:

Genuine Security Alert Notification Email

 

Scammers Exploit User Familiarity

Scammers know that many email users will have received genuine new sign-in security notifications and will thus be familiar with them. The scammers exploit this familiarity by sending out fake security notifications that may appear genuine, at least at first glance.

Here’s an example of one of the fake security notification emails:

Fake SIgn-in Notification Phishing Email

Clicking any of the links or buttons in the email opens a fraudulent website that asks for your email address and email password.

After you submit these details, the criminals can use them to take control of your email account as well as any linked services that use the same login.

Some versions may include further fake forms that ask for more personal and financial information, ostensibly as a means of verifying your identity and securing your account.

Proceed With Caution

Genuine security notifications will clearly identify the service provider who sent them. They will not have vague identifications such as “The Email Team”. And genuine emails will usually address you by name rather than use your email address or a generic greeting such as “Dear Customer”.

If you follow a link in one of these emails, ensure that the link opens the service provider’s genuine website and not a fraudulent copy.

It is always safer to log in to your account by entering the address into your browser’s address bar rather than by clicking a link in an email.

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,
Hoax-Slayer