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Microsoft ‘Reactivate Your Email Account’ Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

mail purporting to be from Microsoft claims that recipients must click a link to complete a ‘one time automatic verification’ in order to avoid having their email account suspended.

Brief Analysis

The email is not from Microsoft. It is a crude phishing scam designed to trick recipients into giving their email address and password to online criminals. The criminals will use the stolen data to hijack the compromised email accounts and use them to send further spam and scam messages in the names of their victims.

Example

Subject: REACTIVATE YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT!!!

Attention;

In compliance with the email upgrade instructions from
Microsoft Corporation and WWW email domain host, all unverified email accounts would be suspended for verification.

To avoid suspension of your email account and also to retain all email Contents, please perform one time automatic verification by completing the online verification form.

Please CLICK HERE

for the online verification form.
As a confirmation of complete and successful verification, you shall be automatically be redirected to your email web page.
Please move this message to your inbox, if found in bulk folder. Please do this for all your email accounts.

Thank you.
WWW. mail Support Team.

© 2014 Microsoft Corporation.

Microsoft Email Phishing Scam

 

Detailed Analysis

According to this email, which purports to be from Microsoft, the recipient must complete a verification of his or her email account by clicking a link in the message. The message warns that all unverified email accounts will face suspension and the loss of all ’email contents’ in the accounts. 
Users are instructed to upgrade their email and avoid suspension by clicking a link and performing a ‘one time automatic verification’.

However, the email is not from Microsoft. It is a phishing scam designed to trick recipients into giving their email address and password to Internet criminals. Clicking the link in the fake email takes users to an equally fake site that asks for their email address, email password and date of birth.

After supplying this information, users are automatically redirected away from the scam website. Meanwhile, the scammers can use the data that they have stolen to access the compromised email accounts and use them to launch further spam and scam campaigns. Since the scam emails are sent via the hijacked accounts of victims, the emails cannot be traced back to the criminals responsible.

Hijacked email accounts are a valuable commodity for online criminals so scam emails that phish for email account passwords are very common. Some are a lot more sophisticated than the version I discuss here and claim to originate from high-profile providers such as Gmail and Yahoo. Some versions carry the phishing form in an attached file. Others simply ask users to reply with their email account details.

No legitimate email provider is likely to send an unsolicited email asking customers to provide their email password by clicking a link, opening an attachment or replying. Be very wary of any email that makes such a request.  

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