Contributor: Binny Kuriakose
The funding gap in US, which resulted in a shutdown of a large portion of the United States federal government, has started affecting economic growth in the country. Large portions of the federal workforce were required to work without immediate pay, while some were indefinitely furloughed.
Symantec recently uncovered spam campaigns, which started promptly following the shutdown announcement, targeting the affected victims. In the past, spammers tried to take advantage of the general gloom, but now they are directly targeting the raw financial state the sudden shutdown has left people in. This could probably be a last ditch effort to haul in more spoils before the US shutdown is lifted, especially in light of the senate’s deal, which is currently being made to end the shutdown.
This new wave of spam is designed to manipulate victims into applying for loans and inevitably disclose their personal details to the spammers. The email appeals to victims by offering quick loan processing and delivery within a time span as short as 90 seconds. The email’s subject line also makes it look as though the names were suggested by someone close to the victims. The following is a sample email header used in this campaign:
From: "[NAME]" <hufuf@[DOMAIN]>
Subject: Your name was mentioned
Figure 1. Spam email promising US shutdown victims a loan
The email content is tweaked strategically at the right places to make the victims feel comfortable. For example, offering financial help as the US shutdown continues. The link in the email body takes the victim to a page asking for the amount they wish to be advanced for the promised loan, and subsequently to another page asking for the user’s personal details.
Figure 2. Website promoting loans
Figure 3. Website asking for user details
This spam is designed to hit the victims’ when they are most vulnerable. The promise of quick cash is too tempting to ignore, and ultimately, ill-informed victims are bound to fall for this scam. Symantec is on the lookout for new tricks, which spammers are pulling out of their sleeve and keeping the public armed with information to see these for what they are – scams.Spammers Offer Loans to US Government Shutdown Victims.