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‘Incoming Mail on Hold’ Email Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

According to this email, which purports to be from the Email Security Team at Microsoft, your incoming mail is on hold.

Supposedly, the messages have been put on hold due to a recent server upgrade. The email instructs you to click a “verify” button to log in to your email account and deal with the problem.

However, the message is not a legitimate email security notification and it has no connection to Microsoft.

Instead, it is a phishing scam designed to steal your email account login details.
Clicking the “verify” button or other links in the email opens a fraudulent website that asks for your email address and email password. After you enter these details on the fake site, you may see a message notifying you that you have successfully removed the hold on your emails.

Your login credentials will be sent to criminals who will use it to hijack your email account. Once the criminals have gained access to your account, they can use it to send spam, scam, and malware emails in your name. They can also harvest personal information from your emails.

And, if the login details give access to linked services such as app stores and online file storage, the criminals can hijack these services as well.

Your email provider may occasionally send admin messages about account problems.  However, they are very unlikely to send an email demanding that you click a link to login and fix a supposed account issue. And, legitimate admin emails are unlikely to have glaring spelling and grammatical errors like those present in many scam emails.

Always login to your email account via a trusted app or by entering the address into your browser’s address bar. Normally, you will be notified about any account issues after you login.

If you receive one of these emails, just hit the delete key. Do not click any links or open any attachments that it contains.

 

A Screenshot of the scam email:

Mail on Hold Phishing Scam Email

Transcript:

Incoming Mail on Hold

We noticed that you have (8) incoming mails on [email address] but have been place on hold due to recent upgrade in our server.

You have to login correctly to access your inbox, and your storage space will increase.

Note: ones you see this mail in your junk folder move it to inbox and verify your email account



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