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'Huge red flag': 7 million Aussies warned of new threat

Jessica Yun
·3-min read
(Source: Getty, Mailguard)
(Source: Getty, Mailguard)

Paypal users have been warned to look out for a slick-looking phishing scam in their inboxes that aims to trick them into handing over their banking details.

Email security firm Mailguard has issued an alert about a new phishing scam that purports to be from the global payment service.

The email subject line is titled ‘Suspicious Login Activity’ and clicking on it reveals an email designed to look like a recent transaction alert, according to Mailguard.

“[It] containsdetails of a recent payment, including the transaction ID number and amount transferred,” stated a blog post.

“If users ‘don’t recognise this transaction’, they are directed to claim a refund and are informed their account has been ‘temporarily suspended’ until their identity can be confirmed.”

(Source: Mailguard)
(Source: Mailguard)
(Source: Mailguard)
(Source: Mailguard)

If victims click through to the ‘claim refund’ link, they’re then taken to a fake Paypal login page.

You’re asked for your email address and Paypal login.

But the real threat is that it looks quite realistic, said the email security firm.

“This is a fairly accurate representation of the actual PayPal login page, and is professionally polished.

“The domain used in the page’s URL however, doesn’t belong to the company, and is a huge red flag that should point to the page’s illegitimacy. This page is actually hosted on a compromised website.”

Once you log in, you’re hit with a ‘notification’ that your account access has been restricted, with a ‘Continue’ button you can click.

When you click through, further personal details are asked for, such as your address, driver’s license number, and banking card details.

The clever fake uses Paypal branding throughout.

(Source: Mailguard)
(Source: Mailguard)

“Once users enter and submit the above fields, the attacker harvests them for later use, and after being shown the ‘Thank you’ page, they are redirected to PayPal’s actual website,” said Mailguard.

“If any user did fall victim to this scam, they are vulnerable to having their PayPal account hijacked, their credit card credentials used to make fraudulent purchases and their identity stolen.”

Paypal is a favourite target of cyber criminals, because it’s a widely used and widely trusted payment service that supports hundreds and thousands of online merchants.

Cyber criminals are also aware that online shopping has boomed in the pandemic.

“Many of us rely on PayPal as a trusted means of making and receiving payments securely, so naturally, when we receive an email supposedly from PayPal regarding an action required for our account, we would take action.”

It only takes one email, or one click, to fall victim to these phishing scams, Mailguard warned.

“All that it takes to break into your business is a cleverly-worded email message. If scammers can trick one person in your company into clicking on a malicious link they can gain access to your data.”

How to spot the red flags

Phishing email scams often have some giveaway signs that reveal they are fake:

  • Addressing you in a generic way, i.e. not by name;

  • Grammatical or branding errors, or the use of poor English;

  • Asks for personal or sensitive details that they should already know;

  • Takes you to a website that isn’t the legitimate URL of the company it’s pretending to be from; or

  • Emailed from a company you aren’t expecting to hear from.

You can report scams to Scamwatch, as well as to the implicated institution.

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