Fact Check

Virus Warning: FTC/DOJ/DOT Complaint Download

Information about the 'FTC/DOJ/DOT Complaint' virus.

Published Oct 30, 2007

Virus:   FTC/DOJ/DOT Complaint.

Status:   Real virus.


[Collected via e-mail, October 2007]

Dear Name,

A complaint has been filled against you and the company you are affiliated to by Mr. George Hanson and sent to Federal Trade Comission by fax,in witch he's claiming that he has been cheated by you and your company in paying a greater ammount of money than the one appearing on the invoice you gave him for using your services.

The complaint states he contacted your company on MON, 22 OCT 2007, trying to solve this situation without interference from any Governmental Institution , but your company refused to take

On WED, 24 OCT 2007, the complaint was sent by fax to Federal Trade Commission and we forwarded it to Internal Revenue Service and Better Business Bureau.

Complaint was filled against :
Name :
Company :

If you feel that this message has been sent to you in error or if you have any questions regarding the next steps of this process, please download the original complaint by clicking the link below :


Please take knowledge of the complaint's content and complete the form at the bottom of forward it to fraudcomplaint@ftc.gov.

Bruce Jameson
Complaint Officer
Federal Trade Commission,Fraud Department

[Collected via e-mail, December 2007]

Dear Mr. Smith,

A complaint has been filled against the company you are affiliated to, in regards to the possibillity of tax avoidance and money laundering schemes. The complaint was filled by Mr. Benjamin Kent on 12/14/2007 and contains refferences that link your company and another 4 companies in an attemt to gain illegal proffit.

Registration : #74366843
Date: 12/10/2007

A copy of the initial complaint and claims has been attached to this e-mail. Please print and keep this copy for your personal records. Disputes involving consumer products and/or services may be arbitrated. Unless they directly relate to the contract that is the basis of this dispute, the following claims will be considered for arbitration only if all parties agree in writing that the arbitrator may consider them:

Claims based on product liability;
Claims for personal injuries;
Claims that have been resolved by a previous court action, arbitration, or
written agreement between the parties.

The decision as to whether your dispute or any part of it can be arbitrated rests solely with the US Department of Treasury.

The Department of Treasury offers a binding arbitration service for disputes involving marketplace transactions. Arbitration is a convenient, civilized way to settle disputes quickly and fairly, without the costs
associated with other legal options.

Origins:   In October 2007, a virus circulated in an attachment to an e-mail purporting to have come from the Fraud Department of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Department of the Treasury. The "complaint" e-mail bore the address of frauddep@ftc.gov and displayed the FTC's government seal.

Merely opening the e-mail doesn't appear to trigger the virus' payload, but opening its attachment or clicking on any of the links it contains does.

Says the FTC of the computer virus being spread in October 2007 in its name:

A bogus email is circulating that says it is from the Federal Trade Commission, referencing a "complaint" filed with the FTC against the email's recipient. The email includes links and an attachment that download a virus. As with any suspicious email, the FTC warns recipients not to click on links within the email and not to open any attachments.

The spoof email includes a phony sender's address, making it appear the email is from "frauddep@ftc.gov" and also spoofs the return-path and

reply-to fields to hide the email’s true origin. While the email includes the FTC seal, it has grammatical errors, misspellings, and incorrect syntax. Recipients should forward the email to spam@uce.gov and then delete it. Emails sent to that address are kept in the FTC's spam database to assist with investigations.

Simply opening the email does not appear to cause harm. However, it is likely that anyone who has opened the email’s attachment or clicked on the links has downloaded the virus on their computer, and should run an anti-virus program. The virus appears to install a "key logger" that could potentially grab passwords and account numbers. More information about bogus emails, phishing, and virus protection is available at www.OnGuardOnline.gov.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click https://ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.

The (DOJ) issued a similar warning:

The Department of Justice has recently become aware of fraudulent spam e-mail messages claiming to be from DOJ. Based upon complaints from the public, it is believed that the fraudulent messages are addressed "Dear Citizen." The messages are believed to assert that the recipients or their businesses have been the subject of complaints filed with DOJ and also forwarded to the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, such email messages may provide a case number, and state that the complaint was "filled [sic] by Mr. Henry Stewart." A DOJ logo may appear at the top of the email message or in an attached file. Finally, the message may include an attachment that supposedly contains a copy of the complaint and contact information for Mr. Stewart.


The Department of Justice did not send these unsolicited email messages — and would not send such messages to the public via email. Similar hoaxes have been recently perpetrated in the names of various governmental entities, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service. Email users should be especially wary of unsolicited warning messages that purport to come from U.S. governmental agencies directing them to click on file attachments or to provide sensitive personal information.

In June 2007, another fake e-mail warning presented as a complaint acknowledgement from the FTC also caused consumers to download malware to their computers. Said the FTC of the
June 2007 "warning":

Consumers, including corporate and banking executives, appear to be targets of a bogus e-mail supposedly sent by the Federal Trade Commission but actually sent by third parties hoping to install spyware on computers. The bogus e-mail poses as an acknowledgment of a complaint filed by the recipient, and includes an attachment. Consumers who open the attachment to this e-mail unleash malicious spyware onto their computer. The agency warns consumers who get this e-mail that purports to be from the FTC:

      — Don't open the attachment.
      — Delete the e-mail.
      — Empty the deleted items folder.

The hoax e-mail is personalized, and contains the name of the recipient and their business. The bogus message explains how the complaint will be used, who will have access to it and states, "Attached you will find a copy of your complaint. Please print a hard copy of the complaint for your records in the upcoming investigation." Opening the attachment downloads the malicious spyware.

Consumers can learn more about protecting themselves from malicious spyware and bogus e-mails at OnGuardOnline.gov, a Web site created by the FTC in partnership with other federal agencies and the technology industry to help consumers stay safe online. The site features modules on spyware and phishing, at https://onguardonline.gov/spyware.html and https://onguardonline.gov/phishing.html.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at https://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Last updated:   17 December 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Reuters.   "Fake FTC E-Mail Carries Dangerous Virus."

    30 October 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.