Malicious code in a bogus White House email, a misspelling scam and a fake online receipt top the recent cyber crime trends as determined by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint project of several federal law enforcement agencies.

White House greetings

A  recent malware campaign, disguised as a holiday greeting from the White House, targeted government employees. The recipient received the e-mail with links to what masqueraded as a greeting card, but when they clicked on the link, it attempted to download a file named "card.exe."

The executable program proved to be an information-stealing Trojan, which would disable the recipient’s computer security notifications, software updates, and firewall settings. The malware also installed itself into the computer’s registry, enabling the code to be executed every time the computer was rebooted.


At the time of review, this particular malicious code sample had a low antivirus detection rate of 20%, with only 9 out of 43 antivirus companies reporting detection.

Social network

During December 2010, the IC3 discovered misspellings of a social network site being used as a social engineering ploy. Misspelling the domain name of this site would redirect users to websites coded to look similar to the actual website.

The website users were redirected to answer three or four simple survey questions. Upon answering those questions, users were offered a choice of three free gifts. Multiple brands were observed as being offered as gifts, including gift cards to retail stores and various brands of laptops.

After clicking on one of the gifts, users were further redirected to other websites claiming to give free gifts for completing surveys. The surveys typically asked for name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. A user could spend hours filling out multiple surveys and never receive any of the gifts advertised.

Fake receipt generator

A new scam aims to swindle online marketplace sellers by generating fake receipts. This Receipt Generator is an executable file that has been circulating on hacking forums recently.

The IC3 investigators say it's a particularly interesting scam - because it does not target regular PC users, it targets the sellers on online marketplace websites.

The program produces what appears to be a genuine marketplace receipt and a copy of the "Printable Order Summary," similar to the documents resulting from legitimate marketplace purchases. Small details such as "Total before tax," "Sales tax," and other particulars make the receipt convincing

Many sellers on these markets will ask the buyer to send them a copy of the receipt should the buyer run into trouble, have orders go missing, lose the license key for a piece of software, and so on. The scammer relies on the seller to accept the printout at face value without checking the details. After all, how many sellers would be aware someone went to the trouble of creating a fake receipt generator?

Sellers must remain ever vigilant about this scam, which has been a popular topic in recent hacker forums.