Email Phishing Scam
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Microsoft Account ‘Outlook Web Access’ Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Email purporting to be from the Microsoft Account Team claims that recipients must click a link to upgrade their email account and set up Outlook Web Access. 

Brief Analysis

The email is not from Microsoft and the claim that users must click a link to upgrade their email accounts is a lie. The message is a phishing scam designed to trick users into sending their Microsoft account login details to criminals.

Example

Upgrade Your Outlook Web Access (OWA).
From: Microsoft account team
Microsoft account
upgrade your email account
To finish setting up this Microsoft account, we just need to make sure you did not loose any messages from your Microsoft Web Access.
Upgrade your email
If the upgrade link did not work click link below, click here to proceed.
Thanks,

The Microsoft account team

Outlook account phishing scam

 

Detailed Analysis

According to this email, which claims to be from the Microsoft Account Team, recipients need to click a link in the message to finish setting up their Microsoft account. The message instructs users to click an ‘upgrade your email account’ link to allow Outlook Web Access and ensure that they do not lose any emails. 
However, the email is not from Microsoft and the claim that users must follow a link to upgrade their email account is untrue. Instead, the email is a criminal ruse designed to trick people into giving their Microsoft account details to cybercriminals. Those who fall for the trick and click one of the links as instructed will be taken to a bogus ‘Microsoft’ website that displays the following login form:

Microsoft Outlook Fake Login Screen

Once they have added their email address and password, victims will then be presented with a message claiming that their ‘Outlook account was updated successfully’. Within a few seconds, they will be redirected to a genuine Microsoft website.

Meanwhile, the criminals responsible for the phishing campaign can use the stolen credentials to hijack the real Microsoft accounts belonging to their victims. A ‘Microsoft account‘ is the new name for what was previously known as a ‘Windows Live ID.’ The one set of login details can be used to access a number of Microsoft services, and are thus a valuable target for scammers.

Online criminals commonly use such phishing techniques. Be wary of any message that claims that you must click a link or open an attachment to upgrade account details, rectify a supposed account issue, or implement new ‘security’ measures. If you receive a suspect message, do not click on any links or open any attachments that it contains. Instead, log in to your account by entering the address into your web browser or via an official account application.


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