July 26, 2012 By Amit Klein 3 min read

IBM recently discovered a configuration of the Citadel malware that targets Facebook users with a fake request for donations to children’s charities in order to steal credit card data.

Different Messaging for Different Users

After users have logged in to their Facebook account, the Citadel injection mechanism displays a pop-up that encourages them to donate $1 to a fake fund for children who are in need of humanitarian aid. Then, it asks them to fill in their credit card details. The malware is configured to deliver the targeted attack based on the user’s country and language settings with webinjection pages in five different languages: English, Italian, Spanish, German and Dutch.

In an interesting twist, the malware’s authors do not reuse the same text for every language. Instead, they have customized the messages of each attack based on each victim’s country and/or region.

Here are the webinjections used for each language:

English Attack

In the English-language version of this attack, users are asked to make a $1 donation for Haitian children living in poverty. The scam claims that the donation goes to children in orphanages and underserved elementary schools. Scammers lure users into submitting their credit/debit card details by filling out a form that asks for their name, card number, expiration date, CVV and security password.

Italian Attack

In the Italian version, cyber criminals exploit the Red Balloon campaign, which was created to fight child mortality in Italy. The authors claim that the campaign has already collected more than 1 million euros for sick children and warn that more than 7 million children die from basic illnesses every year.

Spanish Attack

Upon examination of the Spanish attack, IBM discovered a bug in the injection code that defaults to the English version of the text. However, the fraudsters’ intention with this version was to exploit a well-known Spanish nutrition program for infants and children. The program collects donations to purchase and distribute milk to needy children. It even sends victims pictures of individuals who supposedly already gave money.

German Attack

In the German-language attack, fraudsters urge Facebook users to make a donation to ChildFund, which helps families provide a better future for their children.

Dutch Attack

In the Dutch version of the attack, the criminals request that victims make a donation to Save the Children, an organization that has been working for 90 years to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

This attack illustrates the continuing customization of financial malware and harvesting of credit card data from Facebook’s global base of users. Using children’s charities in this scam makes the attack believable and effective, while the $1 donation amount is low enough that virtually all Facebook users can be encouraged to contribute. This is a well-designed method for stealing credit and debit card data on a massive scale.

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