Cybercriminals are attempting to tarnish the reputation of a website designed to fight online money transfer frauds and other scams. UK hosts Fasthosts unwittingly played into their hands by temporarily suspending Bobbear.co.uk over the weekend in response to fraudulent emails.
UK-based website Bobbear.co.uk, which warns the community about groups attempting to recruit phishing mules, became the victim of a "Joe Job" attack last Wednesday.
The spam email campaign, intercepted by Sophos, attempted to besmirch Bobbear's reputation by asking for donations via online payment service e-Gold, a service under indictment over allegations (strenuously denied by its directors) that it facilitates money laundering.
Bobbear's host Fasthosts responded to the bogus emails by suspending the Bobbear.co.uk domain, much to the annoyance of site administrator Bob Harrison.
"They [Fasthosts] took the website down on Friday morning without any warning, despite the fact that I had notified them on Thursday that there was a massive 'Joe Job' in progress and that they would probably receive lots of unwarranted abuse reports," Harrison explained.
"Since Friday morning I have tried via email and telephone to get an answer from them as to what was going on but I never received anything apart from the initial domain suspension notification. The spam emails, which were badly worded and full of grammatical errors, were coming from zombie machines - none of which were on Fasthost's domain."
The timing of the attack coincided with articles on a major new phishing mule scam with crooks posing as representatives of Draper Investment, as part of a scam linked to two suspected fraudsters in Poland.
Bobbear enlisted the help of Sophos and its contact at Scotland Yard on its behalf, bearing fruit on Monday afternoon when the site was restored. "To have the domain go down so soon after a spam attack has hit the credibility of the domain," said Harrison. "Without the publicity and help from the police I don't think the service would have been restored."
No one from Fasthosts was available for comment at the time of going to press.
Bobbear has posted a notice on its site warning that the emails are forgeries. The e-Gold account is nothing to do with Bobbear, it said.
"The whole ethos of the Bobbear.co.uk is that it is purely voluntary and does not accept donations," said Harrison. "The fact that criminals have chosen to attack the site shows we must be doing something right." ®