Want to make $91,546.76 a month? There’s an app for that!

Fig1. Setup demo of the fake HowToEarnMoney tool

Get-rich-quick scams have been heavily flogged on the internet for years – they’re a great source of cash for those who sell them. However, as public awareness increased and antivirus vendors moved quicker to block fraud from the cloud, scammers have taken the easy route: disposable websites offering small applications allegedly incredible money-earning opportunities.

Once downloaded and installed, though, these applications – identified by Bitdefender as Trojan.Fraud.A – don’t just start pouring money into users’ accounts. Instead, the small programs are saved in Program Files and add shortcuts on the desktop and at startup. After installation, these small applications act as “digital billboards,” fetching content from a page and displaying it to users. These HTML pages present the user with an automated tool “guaranteed” to become a great cash cow without you moving a muscle.

Fig1. Setup demo of the fake HowToEarnMoney tool

The shortcuts, the application and the HTML pages bear the same teasing name with suggestive colorful icons clearly meant to build the trust of the targeted victims.

Fig2. Desktop shortcuts created by the fraudulent tool

The lucrative details of this scheme are served to victims via these HTML webpages in long flashy bold-written instructions that also contain links towards the money making wonder-tool.

Fig3. HTML pages with the instructions

The user only needs to pay a one-time for the application to start amassing a small fortune. It all appears easy and at hand. And $37 or $47 seems nothing compared to the chance to quickly earn the promised dazzling sums of money, ranging between $23,836.87 and $91,546.76 a month.

Needless to say, there’s no magic money-making application. It is yet another affiliate program that provides you with the know-how necessary to spam innocent e-mail users careless enough to post their e-mail address on the web.

Although such money-making schemes are nothing new, this specific one has a twist: rather than having the user open a page in the browser, the crooks use a custom-made billboard application that conveniently does not display the URL of the page. This likely prevents the user from checking out the reputation of the website. More than that, when such pages become blacklisted in the browser’s list, users can still access that page without any warnings, as it is loaded by the billboard application.

The first rule of commerce has it that, in order to make money, you have to sell, not to buy. This quick and dirty scam is the best example that one can make easy money. In this case, it’s the crooks that sell the tool, not you.

What to Do: If you look for job opportunities and come across this kind of offer, we advise you to query the web for the name of the program (i.e. “Income Hybrid”) and see if someone has reported them as scams. Plus, don’t forget to regularly scan your system with a good antivirus solution. And never give your personal data unless you are 300% sure of the legitimacy of that site or payment system.

This article is based on the technical information provided courtesy of Doina Cosovan, Bitdefender Virus Analyst.

All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

About the author


A blend of teacher and technical journalist with a pinch of e-threat analysis, Loredana Botezatu writes mostly about malware and spam. She believes that most errors happen between the keyboard and the chair. Loredana has been writing about the IT world and e-security for well over five years and has made a personal goal out of educating computer users about the ins and outs of the cybercrime ecosystem.


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