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PHISHING SCAM – ‘Click to Read Vital Newsletter’

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Email claims that the sender has uploaded a vital newsletter using Google Docs and requests that recipients click a link to gain immediate access by signing in with their email address details.

Brief Analysis

The email is a phishing scam designed to trick users into giving criminals access to their email accounts and, possibly, other online services. There is no newsletter, vital or otherwise.

Example

Subject: VITAL NEWSLETTER
Hello,
I uploaded this vital newsletter using my google doc. For immediate access CLICK HERE

Sign in with your email.

 

Detailed Analysis

According to this email, the unidentified sender has uploaded a ‘vital newsletter’ to Google Docs. Recipients are instructed to click a link in the message to get immediate access to the supposed newsletter.

However, the link does not lead to a newsletter in Google Docs as claimed. In fact, the message is a phishing scam designed to fool recipients into giving their email account login details to online criminals.
Those taken in by the trick will find that clicking the link takes them to a website where they are supposedly required to login with their email details to view the document. Users must choose their email account provider by clicking the appropriate graphic on the bogus website. When they click on the graphic, a new window will pop up that asks for their email address and password:

Gmail Login Phishing Scam

After they click the ‘Sign In’ button, users will then be presented with a spinning ‘please wait’ notification until being informed that the server is too busy and they should try again later. They will then be automatically redirected to the Google Docs homepage.

The ‘server too busy’ ruse is apparently designed to provide a reason why users have not been taken to the ‘vital newsletter’ as promised. Thus, at this point, users may still not realize that they have just been phished.

Meanwhile, the criminals can use the stolen login details to hijack the compromised email accounts and use them to perpetrate further scam attacks, all in the names of the victims. And, since Google and other service providers may use the same login details for multiple services, the criminals may be able to access a lot more than just email.

This type of email phishing is very common and has many incarnations. Be very wary of any unsolicited message that claims that you need to click a link and provide your email account and password to view an ‘important’ message.

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