Pizza Hut Scam and Malware: "Free Personal Pan Pizza - today we are celebrating our 55th anniversary..."

"Pizza Hut" Scam Email

"Free Personal Pan Pizza - today we are celebrating our 55th anniversary..."

Have you received an email claiming to be from "Pizza Hut", telling you that "Free Personal Pan Pizza - today we are celebrating our 55th anniversary..."; with an attachment and asking you to "Get Free Pizza Coupon". Of course, it is a scam and malware.  If you click to "Get Free Pizza Coupon" button, you will open a virus, trojan or other malware and infect your computer, ipad or cell phone.

There is no free pizza. Clicking on the coupon will just install malware on your computer.

Norton, the anti-virus company defines this sort of attachement as "malware", saying on their website:

"Malware is a category of malicious code that includes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Destructive malware will utilize popular communication tools to spread, including worms sent through email and instant messages, Trojan horses dropped from web sites, and virus-infected files downloaded from peer-to-peer connections. Malware will also seek to exploit existing vulnerabilities on systems making their entry quiet and easy."

Opening the attached file can install a virus or trojan on the user's computer. Once installed, a virus and destroy your files, replicate iself, spam your friends and more. A trojan can send your confidential, personal information to malicious servers and may download other malware.

The scammers rely on the fact that many recipients may click the coupon button out of simple curiosity or concern. You should always be very cautious of any unsolicited emails that claim that a package delivery has failed or been returned. No legitimate delivery company will send notice of a failed delivery via an unsolicited email. Especially not with an attachment.

Other clues that this is a scam include:

  • Of course, the email might have gone to your junk folder.
  • the sender's email address isn't a Pizza Hut email address
  • when you hover over the coupon link, it doesn't show pizzahut.com
  • If you Google "Pizza Hut", you won't see anything about free pizza on the company's official site
  • if you do a search on Pizza Hut's 55th anniversary, you'll find out from news articles that the company just offered discounted pizza - last year
  • ask yourself if you signed up to get email discounts from this company. If not, it's unlikely they'd send you a real discount out of the blue.

Sample Scam and Malware: Pizza Hut Email

In 2013, CFR received the following email:





Recommendations- What to do:

Do  not open the attachment. Delete the email.

And please let us know about any suspicious calls or emails you receive.  We look for patterns so that we can alert the authorities and victims to new scams, before it is too late!

  • Only open email or IM attachments that come from a trusted source and that are expected
  • Use an anti-virus/anti-spam package (we recommend Norton 360 or Norton Internet Security scan all attachments prior to opening. Click here to see Norton 360 2013 on Amazon.com .
  • Delete the messages without opening any attachments
  • Do not click on links in emails that come from people you do not know and trust, even if it looks like it comes from a company you know.
  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date
  • Keep your operating system up to date with current security patches. Click here for an article that describes how to do this.
  • In general, if you're not sure that an email is legit, don't click anything or open any attachments. Instead, look for giveaways that the email isn't the real thing. Type in the company's url to check it out.

Definitions: What are viruses, trojans, worms and more?

 Malware is a category of malicious software code that includes viruses, worms, bots, backdoors and Trojan horses. Malware uses popular communication tools to spread, including viruses and worms that are sent through email and instant messages, Trojan horses in email attachments or received when you visit a corrupted website, and virus-infected files downloaded from file sharing P2P connections.This can be confusing, so here is a simple breakdown. See this article from CISCO for a more detailed description.

Viruses

A computer virus propagates itself by inserting a copy of itself onto your computer. Viruses can range in severity from causing mildly annoying effects to damaging data files or software. Almost all viruses are attached to an executable file, which means the virus may be on your computer or in an email, but will not be active or able to spread until you run it, click on it, or open the file or attachment.

Worms

Computer worms are similar to viruses in that they reproduce copies of themselves and can cause the similar damage. But worms are standalone software and do not require the user to open an attachment (although they can) - often they take advantage of weaknesses in operating systems to spread from computer to computer throughout a network (home or company)

Trojans

A Trojan is named after the wooden horse the Greeks used to enter Troy. It is a harmful file that looks legitimate, such as "Attached is your invoice. Click here to open it.". Users are typically tricked into loading and executing it on their systems. After it is activated, it can achieve any number of attacks on the host, from irritating the user (popping up windows or changing desktops) to damaging the host (deleting files, stealing data, or activating and spreading other malware, such as viruses). Trojans are also known to create back doors to give malicious users access to the system.

Bots

"Bot" comes from the word "robot" and is an automated process that interacts with other network services. A typical good use of bots is to gather information (such as web crawlers), or interact automatically with instant messaging (IM), Internet Relay Chat (IRC), or other web interfaces. They may also be used to interact dynamically with websites. Bots can be used for either good or malicious intent. A malicious bot is self-propagating malware designed to infect a host and connect back to a central server that may control an entire network of compromised devices, or "botnet. Bots can include the ability to log keystrokes, gather passwords, capture and analyze packets, gather financial information, launch DoS attacks, relay spam, and open back doors on the infected host.

Backdoor

AA back door is an undocumented way of getting into a computer system, bypassing the normal security logon mechanisms. Some back doors are placed in the software by the original programmer and others are placed on systems through a system compromise, such as a virus or worm. Usually, attackers use back doors for easier and continued access to a system after it has been compromised. This is commmon when software makes your computer a "zombie".


For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.