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Windows Live Email Limit Exceeded Phishing Scam

Outline
Message purporting to be from Windows Live and the "Hotmail Security Team" claims that the recipient's Windows Live account has been suspended because the email sending and receiving limit has been exceeded. The user is instructed to follow a link to verify account information, thereby lifting the suspension.



Brief Analysis
The message is not from Windows Live. In fact, the message is a phishing scam designed to trick recipients into divulging their Windows Live account details to cybercriminals.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: July 2, 2012
First published: July 2, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example

Subject: WindowsLive E-mail ACCOUNT ALERT! (ID: (66111) - 1st of July ,2012)

Dear WindowsLive Customer,

We are sending this e-mail to inform you that your e-mail account has excedeed it's sending and receiving limit in the last 7 days.
Due to this , we have to suspend your account in order to prevent unwanted bots and spyware using our customer's accounts.

In order to verify your account and lift the suspenion limit, please verify your account information on the link below:

[Link removed]

The limit applied on your account will be lifted as soon as you verify your account.
After verification , you may use your e-mail account as usual.
We are sorry for any inconvenice that this might have caused.
Hotmail Security Team.


© Microsoft 2012 - Hotmail e-mail security [Anti-Spam Team]




Detailed Analysis
This email, which claims to be from Windows Live, informs the recipient that his or her Windows Live account has been suspended because the account limit for sending and receiving emails has been exceeded. Supposedly, the "Hotmail Security Team" has imposed the suspension to prevent "unwanted bots and spyware" from using customer accounts. According to the message, the user can have this suspension lifted by following a link and verifying account information.

However, the claims in the message are lies and it was not sent by Windows Live or any "Hotmail Security Team". Instead, the email is a typical phishing scam designed to trick unsuspecting Windows Live users into submitting their account login details to Internet criminals. Those who fall for the ruse and click the link will be taken to a fake login page that looks almost exactly like the genuine Windows Live sign in page.

After victims enter their login details on the bogus page, they will be immediately redirected to the genuine Windows Live website and presented with the real login page. Meanwhile, the credentials submitted on the fake site will have been transmitted to the criminals operating the scam. Armed with this stolen information, the scammers can then access Windows Live accounts belonging to their victims and use them to send further spam and scam emails.

Scam emails like this can often be identified by poor grammar and spelling and an undue sense of urgency. The scammers hope that users will be taken in by the supposed threat of suspension or service interruption and click on links in the messages without due forethought. Often, scam emails can also be identified by examining the web address of links in the messages. Scammers usually disguise links in the messages using HTML so that they appear to point to a genuine site. However, you can check the real address beneath the HTML by hovering your mouse cursor over the link. Generally, the real link will be displayed in the status bar of your email program or via a pop-up box. If the link does not seem to correspond to the the website that the email supposedly came from, then the message may well be a scam.

Phishing is a very common type of scam that targets users of many companies and services around the world. Be cautious of any unsolicited message that claims that you must update or verify account or billing details by following a link or filling in an attached form. Rather than click on email links to login to your online services, its is safest to open your web browser and directly enter the service's web address.

Read more information about Phishing Scams


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References
Friend Stranded in Foreign Country Scam Emails
Check Links in HTML Emails
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information



Last updated: July 2, 2012
First published: July 2, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer