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Westpac 'Quick Survey' Phishing Scam

Email purporting to be from Australia's Westpac Bank claims that the recipient can have a reward of up to $100 credited to their account in exchange for clicking a link or opening an attachment and filling in a short survey.

Brief Analysis
The email is not from Westpac. The bogus survey is designed to trick recipients into divulging their credit card details and other personal information to cybercriminals.

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Subject: Members Satisfaction Survey

Dear valued member,

Westpac Survey Department selected you to take part in our quick survey.

To earn yours 100$ reward click:
[Link Removed]

Subject: Westpac Online Banking Survey !

Take part in our 5 question survey and Westpac Bank will add $44.00 AUD credit to your account. Download Survey and complete the form. It`s fast and easy !

Note: Message contains a bogus form in an attached file. See screenshots in following example.

Dear Westpac Bank Customer,

Westpac Bank will add $35.00 AUD credit to your account just for taking part in our quick 5 question survey.
Download Survey and complete the form.It's fast and easy!

[Screenshots of attached HTML file]

Westpac Survey Scam
Westpac Survey Phishing Scam

Detailed Analysis

This email, which purports to be from large Australian bank, Westpac, promises recipients easy money just for participating in a "quick 5 question survey." To receive the "reward" , recipients are asked to open an attached HTML file which opens in their web browser. As the above screenshots reveal, recipients are then asked to fill in the "survey" as well as provide a large amount of personal information. They are also asked to provide credit card details, ostensibly so that the promised survey fee can be credited to their accounts. Alternative versions ask users to click a link rather than open an attachment. Links open a bogus website that contains a "survey" form similar to the one shown in the above example.

However, the email is certainly not from Westpac and the promised survey fee is nothing more than the bait designed to trick unsuspecting recipients into handing over their details to Internet criminals. Those who fill in the bogus form and click the "Submit" button will in fact be sending their personal information directly to phishing scammers. Once they have collected their victim's information, these criminals can use it to commit credit card fraud and identity theft.

Such survey phishing scams have become a common scammer ruse in recent years. Similar fake survey offers have falsely claimed to come from numerous other high profile companies and institutions, including ANZ, McDonald's, Coca Cola and the UK Post Office. Other versions take a more generic approach by claiming to be a random survey conducted by a marketing company.

Some versions put the bogus survey in an attached file, apparently in an effort to avoid browser phishing protection mechanisms. Others contain a link to a bogus website that includes the fake survey.

Users should be wary of any unsolicited message that promises them a sizable cash payment for participating in an insignificant survey. No company is ever likely to offer such sums to large numbers of participants in exchange for filling in such brief surveys. Moreover, no legitimate company is ever likely to ask recipients to submit personal and financial information via an unsecure web form, be it contained in an attached file or hosted on a website. If you receive one of these bogus survey offers, do not open any attachments or follow any links that it may contain. Do not reply to the email.

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Last updated: June 3, 2013
First published: October 20, 2011
Written by Brett M. Christensen
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