Phishing: Watch Out For Fake Unsubscribe Buttons

Concept art of spam/phishing emails. Watch out for fake unsubscribe buttons.

Written by: Jay H.

Scammers are using fake unsubscribe emails to verify valid email accounts for use in future spam and phishing campaigns, according to BleepingComputer.

You may have seen these in your inbox – emails with little to no context, simply asking if you wish to subscribe or unsubscribe. These emails do not describe what content you are subscribing or unsubscribing to and are used by spammers to confirm your email for future malicious campaigns.

Common email subjects for these spam emails include “We need your confirmation asap,” “Verification,” “Request, please confirm your subscription,” amongst other variations.

The contents of the emails are bare. Generally, there will be colourful boxes asking you to subscribe or unsubscribe, as demonstrated below:

Screenshot of spam email with text "Please confirm your subscribe or unsubscribe." Two colourful boxes are below, one reading "Confirm subscribe me!" and the other "Unsubscribe me!". "Thank you!" is below the boxes.

Screenshot of blue spam email that reads "Please confirm your unsubscribe". Below that, it reads "To confirm your unsubscribe, please click here or on the link below." Below is a red box reading "Unsubscribe me!" and the text "Thank you!" is below.

Should you click on the subscribe or unsubscribe links, your mail client will create a new email to send to many different email addresses operated by the spammer.

Screenshot of new email sending to many email addresses under the spammer's control.

Although you may expect to be unsubscribed from further emails, sending this email instead verifies your account’s legitimacy for future spam campaigns.

BleepingComputer tested a new email address to respond to various confirmation emails. As a result, spam emails bombarded the account in only a few days.

Stay Aware of Fake Unsubscribe Emails

Scammers use these fake subscribe/unsubscribe emails to refine their mailing lists and verify emails susceptible to attacks. Overall, you should never open links or files from unknown senders and be aware of the signs of a phishing attack.

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