Beware of phishing email with innocuous PDF attachment

Sample of a phishing email I received
Sample of a phishing email I received

Over the past week, I received several emails from work acquaintances with a simple email header with the company name as the title and no inner text, sans for an innocuous PDF attachment. I was in BCC and there were probably many others who received the same email.

Clicking on the PDF redirects to a FAKE Google Account sign-in page. The scammer is phishing for your sign-in details. Be careful!

The URL of the link is a dead giveway as it starts with “data:text/html”. Do not ever key in your Google email and password. Do not fall prey to phishing email scammers.

These scammers are on a roll as I saw many others posting and sharing about receiving such phishing emails on social media. If I can receive 6 such emails from 6 different individuals within a week with the same phishing tactic, the scam should be spreading rapidly among my network of friends and acquaintances.

If you were to receive such an email, you may want to reach out to the sender privately and let him or her know that his or her account had been compromised.

If you see others who are copied in the email, reply all to alert them of the phishing scam.

It is bad enough there is a bunch of rotten eggs who are calling the whole of Singapore to cheat people with the “DHL” parcel phone scam. Scammers are everywhere. They make daily routines such as answering a phone call on our mobile or opening an email attachment become dangerous.

The worse thing is, the police do not know what to do with these scammers as they are often part of international crime syndicates that cross national boundaries. These criminals are very difficult to track and prosecute due to different criminal jurisdiction in different countries.

Until the world leaders get together to go after these scammers, they will not go away. In fact, online and mobile scams are likely to proliferate, given the low risk of prosecution and high rate of returns. This is definitely a more profitable criminal business model than robbing convenience stores for fifty to a few hundred dollars for each hit.

Given how global issues are never solved – take the haze from Indonesia; or the transatlantic disputes between China and many other countries like Vietnam and the Philippines for instance; a small global issue like the proliferation of transboundary online and mobile scammers is even more unlikely to be ever solved.

As such, the next best thing we can do is to raise awareness. The elderly and those who are not tech-savvy are the most vulnerable. These are people who are not familiar with modern communication technologies and tend to get tricked easily. They are unlikely to be the ones reading this post as they probably do not surf the web much.

As such,as you read about this, the parcel phone scam or any other new forms of mobile or online scams, make it an effort to share it at the dining table or social gatherings with your loved ones, especially the older folks who are the most vulnerable.

Together, we can fight online spams and scams.

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