Computer users are being warned to steer clear of a bogus court summons email that has been designed to steal their bank details.
Once opened, the attachment releases a virus that allows crooks to access all personal information from dates of birth and passwords to credit card numbers and bank accounts.
The Trojan Horse virus gives cyber crooks full remote control of the computer – from anywhere in the world – and lays bare every sensitive detail on it.
Fraudsters are hijacking real names of court officials to panic internet users into opening the malicious file which contains the virus.
Claiming to be from the court clerk, the fake email says all the relevant details are in the attachment which should be read “thoroughly”.
And it adds: “If you do not attend the hearing, the judge may hear the case in your absence.
“Yours truly, L McNamara, Clerk to the Court.”
Millions of scam emails are believed to have been sent out and the Business Crime Reduction Centre (BCRC) has traced them to a server in America.
It is now urging anyone who receives an email with “notice to appear in court” in the subject box to contact Action Fraud on its hotline number 0300 123 2040.
And it is warning Brits not to open the attachment, forward the email or try and contact the senders.
BCRC’s cyber security specialist, Mark Connell, said: “Provoking a panicked, impulse reaction has become a very common scam technique for cyber criminals.
“Opening the attachment allows the criminal to spy on the victim, use their computer to commit crime, or steal personal and financial information. This email is difficult to block as the subject headers change frequently.”
Today, a spokesman for the Court Service said court summons were always posted and would not arrive by email.