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PayPal ‘Confirm Your Identity’ Malware Emails

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Message purporting to be from online payment service PayPal claims that recipients must click a link to confirm their identity and activate their account. 

Brief Analysis

The message is not from PayPal. Links in the bogus message open a website that harbours malware.

Example

Subject: Confirmation Required

Confirm your identity

Dear (email address removed),

To finish signing up for your PayPal account, you must click the link below and enter your password to confirm your identity.

Click to activate your account.

After you confirm your identity, you can send money, accept unlimited credit card and bank account payments, use special tools for sellers and receive Customer Service hotline help 7 days a week. You’ll pay just a small fee for receiving payments.

You’ll also enjoy the benefit of Buyer Protection for most items you buy on eBay. See terms

You can also confirm your identity by logging in to your PayPal account at [Link removed]. Click the “Confirm identity address” link in Notifications and then enter confirmation details.

Thank you for using PayPal!
The PayPal Team
Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and click the Help link in the top right corner of any PayPal page.

To receive email notifications in plain text instead of HTML, update your preferences.

PayPal Malware Scam

 

Detailed Analysis

This message, which purports to be from online Payment company PayPal, claims that recipients must click a link to confirm their identity and activate their PayPal account. The email arrives complete with PayPal graphics and formatting.

However, the email is not from Paypal. Instead, it is an attempt to trick users into infecting their computers with malware. Those who click the link will be taken, not to a PayPal page as they expect, but rather to a compromised website that harbours hidden malware programs. 
Once on the compromised site, users may be tricked into downloading and installing the malware.  Typically, such malware can harvest personal and financial information from the infected computer and relay it back to remote servers operated by online criminals. It may also download more malware and allow the criminals to control the compromised computer from afar.

To further the illusion of legitimacy, the malware email comes from an address that – at first glance – may seem to be a genuine PayPal address. In reality, the email address has an extra character (“paypall” rather than “paypal” and has no connection to the real PayPal website.

This campaign is similar in intent to an earlier campaign that used fake PayPal payment notification emails as a means of distributing malware.

PayPal customers are also, almost constantly, targeted in phishing scams designed to steal their PayPal login details and other personal and financial information.

Be wary of any email purporting to be from PayPal that claims that you must update or validate account details, fix an account error, or verify an unexpected payment.  Genuine PayPal emails will always address you by name rather than by using your email address or a generic greeting such as “Dear Customer”.

It is always safest to login to your PayPal account by entering the address into your browser’s address bar rather than by clicking a link in an unsolicited message. You can reports suspect emails claiming to be from PayPal to the reporting address listed on the PayPal website.



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