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A China-based financially motivated group is leveraging the trust associated with popular international brands to orchestrate a large-scale phishing campaign dating back as far as 2019.

The threat actor, dubbed Fangxiao by Cyjax, is said to have registered over 42,000 imposter domains, with initial activity observed in 2017.

“It targets businesses in multiple verticals including retail, banking, travel, and energy,” researchers Emily Dennison and Alana Witten said. “Promised financial or physical incentives are used to trick victims into further spreading the campaign via WhatsApp.”

Users clicking on a link sent through the messaging app are directed to an actor-controlled site, which, in turn, sends them to a landing domain impersonating a well-known brand, from where the victims are once again taken to sites distributing fraudulent apps and bogus rewards.

These sites prompt the visitors to complete a survey to claim cash prizes, in exchange for which they are asked to forward the message to five groups or 20 friends. The final redirect, however, hinges on the IP address of the victim and the browser’s User-Agent string.

images from Hacker News