Remove HMRC Phishing E-mail Scam (Oct. 2018 Update)


  

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Recently, there have been a number of reports regarding a new phishing email scam that tricks users (mostly in the UK) into believing that the country’s government will pay them a tax rebate or a refund. The scam is widely-known as the HMRC scam/HMRC phishing e-mails scam. HRMC stands for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and it is the UK government’s department responsible for tax collection. The hackers behind the HMRC phishing e-mails pretend to be/try to impersonate the HMRC department within their e-mails and tell the users that they are eligible for a tax rebate/refund and that they are supposed to click on a provided link in order to receive the rebate or refund. The provided link is, of course, not what it is said to be. We can’t tell you for sure what the linked address would be but it is most certainly something unsafe and hazardous and not an actual link from the HMRC department that would allow you to get your tax refund. In fact, this scam might be used for different purposes – for malware distribution, for money theft, for promoting unsafe or low-quality software, etc. However, in all of the cases, the scam works the same way – an phishing e-mail gets send to you and you are supposed to click on the attached link which will most certainly land you on some sketchy and most likely phishing webpage. Interacting with the link or with the page it may land you on is highly inadvisable as it could seriously compromise your virtual security and expose your computer to serious danger.

Something really important to note here is that if you have been targeted by the HMRC phishing e-mails, then you might actually have a Trojan Horse virus on your PC which is why we have added the following removal guide for Trojans that you can use in order to clean your PC of such malware.

Remove HMRC Phishing E-mail Scam

If you have a Windows virus, continue with the guide below.

If you have a Mac virus, please use our How to remove Ads on Mac guide.

If you have an Android virus, please use our Android Malware Removal guide.

If you have an iPhone virus, please use our iPhone Virus Removal guide


Step1

Some of the steps will likely require you to exit the page. Bookmark it for later reference.

Reboot in Safe Mode (use this guide if you don’t know how to do it).

Step2

WARNING! READ CAREFULLY BEFORE PROCEEDING!

Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC at the same time and go to the Processes Tab. Try to determine which processes are dangerous. 

malware-start-taskbar

Right click on each of them and select Open File Location. Then scan the files with our free online virus scanner:

Drag and Drop Files Here to Scan
Maximum file size: 128MB.

This scanner is free and will always remain free for our website's users. You can find its full-page version at: https://howtoremove.guide/online-virus-scanner/




Scan Results


Virus Scanner Result
ClamAV
AVG AV
Maldet


After you open their folder, end the processes that are infected, then delete their folders. 

Note: If you are sure something is part of the infection – delete it, even if the scanner doesn’t flag it. No anti-virus program can detect all infections. 

Step3

Hold together the Start Key and R. Type appwiz.cpl –> OK.

appwiz

You are now in the Control Panel. Look for suspicious entries. Uninstall it/them. If you see a screen like this when you click Uninstall, choose NO:

virus-removal1

Step4

Type msconfig in the search field and hit enter. A window will pop-up:

msconfig_opt

Startup —> Uncheck entries that have “Unknown” as Manufacturer or otherwise look suspicious.

  • Remember this step – if you have reason to believe a bigger threat (like ransomware) is on your PC, check everything here.

Hold the Start Key and R –  copy + paste the following and click OK:

notepad %windir%/system32/Drivers/etc/hosts

A new file will open. If you are hacked, there will be a bunch of other IPs connected to you at the bottom. Look at the image below:

hosts_opt (1)

If there are suspicious IPs below “Localhost” – write to us in the comments.

Step5

Type Regedit in the windows search field and press Enter.

Once inside, press CTRL and F together and type the virus’s Name. Right click and delete any entries you find with a similar name. If they don’t show up this way, go manually to these directories and delete/uninstall them:

  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—–Random Directory. It could be any one of them – ask us if you can’t discern which ones are malicious.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—-Windows—CurrentVersion—Run– Random
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER—-Software—Microsoft—Internet Explorer—-Main—- Random

More about the Trojan used in the HMRC scam

As said above, the scam method could be used for different agendas yet its mechanism of operation remains the same. However, the fact that you have been targeted by those phishing e-mails might mean that there had already been some malicious software inside your computer. Oftentimes, Trojan viruses are used to facilitate such phishing e-mail scam schemes and that is why it is a good idea to scan your computer for Trojans and other malware threats with your antivirus program. Also, as we mentioned above, the guide from this page has been designed to help you locate the virus that might have been used to help the hackers target you with their phishing e-mails so, if you are one of the many users that have received such sketchy web letters, we advise you to take immediate action towards cleaning your computer from any potential threats that might currently be residing in its system. Until then, do not forget what we told you about the e-mails – they are fake and supposed to compromise your virtual security in one way or another. The official site of the UK government has even stated that they’d never sent such e-mails to anyone and there’s even a separate page on that site where you can learn more about the scam from the UK government itself. Here is a link to that page.

SUMMARY:

Name HMRC Phishing E-mail
Type Trojan
Danger Level  High (Trojans are often used as a backdoor for Ransomware)
Symptoms  Suspicious e-mails in your online inbox that claim you are illegible for a tax refund or rebate.
Distribution Method Misleading online requests, pirated downloads, illegal sites, low-quality software installers, etc.
Detection Tool

If the guide doesn’t help, download the anti-virus program we recommended or try our free online virus scanner. Also, you can always ask us in the comments for help!


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