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Western Union ‘Too Many Login Attempts’ Phishing Scam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Email purporting to be from money wire service Western Union claims that the recipient’s account has been locked due to “multiple failed login attempts” and that the recipient must login via a link in the message and answer questions in order to restore account access. 

Brief Analysis

The email is not from Western Union. In fact, the message is a phishing scam designed to steal account login details and credit card information from Western Union customers.

Example

Subject: Account locked due to too many login attempts.

Western Union phishing Scam Email

 

Detailed Analysis

According to this email, which claims to be from money wire service Western Union, the recipient’s Western Union account has been locked because the company’s “Online Security System” has detected multiple failed login attempts.

The message claims that the security system has temporarily locked the account as a security measure and instructs the recipient to click a link to follow the “account unlocking procedure”. 

However, the email is certainly not from Western Union and the claim that the recipient’s account has been locked is untrue. In fact, the message is a phishing scam designed to allow Internet criminals to steal account login credentials and credit card details from Western Union customers.

Those who fall for the ruse and click the link in the message are taken to a fraudulent website login page designed to mirror the appearance of the real Western Union website. After they provide their Western Union username and password on the fake site, they are then taken to a second bogus webpage where they are asked to provide credit card information, supposedly as a means of verifying their identity.

Once the bogus “verification” process is completed, the bogus site automatically redirects to the real Western Union website, possibly leaving victims completely unaware that they have just handed over their account and credit card details to online fraudsters.

Armed with this stolen information, the scammers can then login to the victim’s real Western Union account, collect other personal and financial information stored there and use the account for further fraudulent activities. They also have the victim’s credit card details, which they can use for credit card fraud or sell to other criminals.

As in many other phishing scam attempts, the scammers have mirrored the company’s logos, colour scheme and usual formatting on both the scam email and the fake web pages. The email is, in fact, one large graphic rather than text, possibly in an attempt to avoid phishing filters. In a further attempt to put potential victims off the scent, the scammers have used a web address for their fake website that is very similar to the genuine Western Union site address.

However, also like many other phishing scams, the fake site does not use a secure (https:) page for its supposed verification form. Any page that asks for financial information such as credit card details on a non-secure site should be treated with suspicion.

Western Union customers have been regularly targeted by phishing scammers in the past. Western Union will not send you an unsolicited email asking for your login and credit card details.



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