China is gearing up to usher in the Year of the Horse, which begins with the new moon on January 31 this year. With more than a billion people worldwide preparing to celebrate the new year for the lunar calendar, the celebration this year promises more color than ever before.
Chinese New Year, also known as the spring festival, is a day for reunion and thanksgiving, where exchanging gifts is at the heart of the celebration. Friends, family, colleagues and even businesses exchange gifts to show love, respect and loyalty. Business owners often send gifts to their customers and shops offer gifts and discounts to show their gratitude. However, spammers are all too aware of this practice.
The spammers and fraudsters are known to capitalize on special occasions and exploit the noble gesture of giving gifts in order to send out spam. They are known to pose as friends and business owners and send emails promising gifts and financial offers to attract unsuspecting victims.
We’ve observed spam that exploits Chinese New Year by pretending to be from a reputed company. The spam message appeals to the recipient’s benevolence, asking them to give the company’s products as gifts to loved ones.
Figure 1. The subject of the spam message
Subject: [COMPANY NAME] wish users, a happy new year.
Figure 2. Preview of the Chinese spam email related to the Year of the Horse
Greeting all customers,
As the year of the golden snake is coming to an end, year of lucky horse right at our door steps! It’s the beginning of a new year, everything is a new start! As we are about to approach the new year, [PRODUCT NAME] would like to send our greeting to you and your family with utmost respect and well wishes! We wish you a happy and healthy new year!
Thanks for your continuous support to the company. We wish you a great Year of the Horse. Happy New Year!
The spam sample in discussion has the subject line greeting the customers on behalf of the company. The body contains an image preview which looks cheerful to spread the holiday feeling. The message tries to make the name of the company linger in the minds of the readers so that they may consider its products while gift shopping.
In previous years, Symantec had observed a variety of Chinese New Year spam. The most prominent among them promoted fake gift offers and discounts. Scams formed another significant spam category, which included loan offers and job offers, making people think they can pay off any debt they may have and get a good start in the new year. All these spam emails were devised to exploit the strong traditions and values of the Chinese community worldwide.
The Chinese New Year festivities commence on January 31 and will continue for 15 days until the full moon, when Lantern Festival is celebrated. We can expect more spam of a similar nature during this time.
The New Year festival is a good opportunity for the spammers to target users. The best practice to avoid falling into the spammers’ traps is to be wary of opening unsolicited new year themed emails.
We wish you all the very best in the Year of the Horse!