Scammers have begun to impersonate US President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in new phishing emails that distribute malware or try to trick users into falling for extortion scams.
The email security firm Inky has discovered a series of phishing emails in which cybercriminals try to impersonate the White House. In these emails, the cybercriminals state that they are sending out the latest “Coronavirus Guidelines for America” on behalf of President Trump and ask recipients to click on a link to download a document.
Once a user clicks on the link though, they are brought to a webpage that impersonates the White House and contains another link to “Download and read the full document”.
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The second link then downloads a malicious Word document that requires a user to “Enable Editing” and “Enable Content” to view it. If a user does this, malicious macros will launch that install malware on their computer. Since the site pushing the malware has been taken down, it is unclear as to which malware was being distributed in this attack.
Vice President Pence phishing scam
A separate phishing scam was also discovered that impersonates US Vice President Pence though it appears more like an extortion scam than an attempt to install malware on a user's device.
In this scam, users receive an email from the Vice President who claims to have just finished attending a security meeting about the recipient's company. The email says that the company is involved in human trafficking, drug dealing and money laundering and that Pence wants to come to an “agreement” before bringing the matter to President Trump.
While this scam does not distribute malware, it does present the opportunity for the victim to respond and reach an “agreement” with the scammer which likely involves sending Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency to keep the Vice President from talking.
Everyone should remain vigilant during this difficult time to avoid falling victim to the numerous coronavirus-related scams making their way around the internet at the moment.
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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.