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08 Feb 2018
New flurry of phishing emails based on current affairs

Senders of phishing emails are always looking for new confidence tricks. In recent weeks, they have resorted to sending emails about hot topics in the news. Here are three examples:

In the wake of a spate of DDoS attacks on banks, a scam email with the subject ‘Announcement!’ [‘Mededeling’ in Dutch] appeared at the end of January. The message contained a link to a fake ABN Amro login page. The senders were of course hoping that people who worried about banking security would quickly log in on the counterfeit page and disclose their user credentials to these criminals.

Here’s an example (click to enlarge):

Dutch government coalition agreement
On 10 October 2017, the new Netherlands government led by Mark Rutte presented its coalition agreement with the title ‘Confidence in the future’ [‘Vertrouwen in de toekomst’]. A day later, a fake email (again purporting to come from ABN Amro bank) popped up with the subject ‘Coalition agreement third Rutte cabinet’ [‘Regeerakkoord kabinet-Rutte III’].

Here’s an example (click to enlarge):

Revamped ING website
ING bank has announced that it will revamp its online banking website, giving it an entirely new look. Scammers have picked up on this development and are sending scam emails about this subject.

Here’s an example (click to enlarge):

Because scammers are hoping that emails with news-related content will look more credible. And people tend to fall for credible-looking emails. And that’s exactly what the senders want.

Recipients of this type of email scam don’t always read the entire message, particularly if the text is long. When an email refers to something in the news and recipients know this news event, they are likely to think that the rest of the email will also be correct. Unfortunately, they are wrong and will be duped.

Related story: ‘ ‘Commandeering tone makes phishing scams more effective’