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United States District Court Subpoena Malware Email

Summary:
Email purporting to be a subpoena from the United States District Court informs recipients that they must appear and testify before a Grand Jury (Full commentary below).



Status:
False - Malware scam email

Example:(Submitted, April 2008)
Subject: Subpoena in case #79-440-HOY

AO 88(Rev.11/94) Subpoena in a Civil Case
United States District Court Federal Seal
Issued by the UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Issued to: NAME REMOVED

SUBPOENA IN A CIVIL CASE
Case number: 79-440-HOY
United States District Court
YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED to appear and testify before the Grand Jury of the United States District Court at the place, date, and time specifiied below.

Place: United States Courthouse
880 Front Street
San Diego, California 92101

Room: Grand Jury Room
room 5217

Date and Time: May 7,2008
9:00 a.m. PST

Issuing officers name and address: O'Mevely & Meyers LLP; 400 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Please download the entire document on this matter(follow this link) and print it for your record.

[LINK REMOVED] This subpoena shall remain in effect until you are granted leave to depart by the court or by an officer on behalf of the court.

Any organisation not a party to this suit thas is subponaed for the taking of a deposition shall designate one or more offcers, directors, or managing agents, or other persons to testify on its behalf, and may set forth, for each person designated, the matters on wich the person will testify. Federal Rules of Civil Procedures,20(b)(6).

Failure to appear at the time and place indicated may result in a contempt of court citation. Bring this subpoena with you to the courtroom and oresent it to the bailiff. Direct any questions to the person requesting you to appear: City Prosecutor.

Screenshot of scam email
United States District Court Subpoena Scam Email





Commentary:
This seemingly official email purports to be a subpoena sent by the United States District Court. The message claims that the recipient must testify before a Grand Jury at a specified place and time. The recipient is instructed to follow a link in the message to download and print a complete copy of the subpoena document.

However, the message is not from the United States District Court. In fact, the message is an attempt to trick recipients into installing information stealing malware on their computers. U.S. Courts has published the following alert about the bogus emails on its website:
Notice: Invalid Subpoenas

Reports have been received of bogus e-mail grand jury subpoenas, purportedly sent by a United States District Court. The e-mails are not a valid communication from a federal court and may contain harmful links. Recipients are warned not to open any links or download any information relating to this e-mail notice. The federal Judiciary's email address is uscourts.gov. The e-mails in question appear to be sent from a similar address that is not owned and operated by the federal courts. Law enforcement authorities have been notified.
Unlike more common mass email malware campaigns in which bogus emails are randomly distributed to many thousands of recipients at a time, these malware emails specifically target individuals. Each bogus message is individually tailored to include the name and business details of the intended victim. The inclusion of such personal information, along with seemingly legitimate logos and formatting may help to fool recipients into believing the claims in the message.

Those who follow the link in the message can inadvertently download and install malicious software that can log keystrokes on the infected computer and communicate with a remote server.

Legitimate subpoenas are not distributed via unsolicited emails. Fraudsters have used similar ruses in the past in order to trick victims into installing malware or revealing personal information. Internet users should be very cautious of any unsolicited emails that claim to be from government entities such as the court system, tax department or law enforcement.

References:
Notice: Invalid Subpoenas
You've been subpoenaed

Last updated: 16th April 2008
First published: 16th April 2008

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen

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