eBay-style outsourcing site PeoplePerHour says a rival firm faked emails which claimed to be offering the company's customer database for sale.
The company initially feared that a disgruntled ex-contractor had swiped customer records and was offering them for sale to rival companies. The rivals declined the offer and tipped off PeoplePerHour.
Company founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou said: "We have now looked extensively into the matter, including getting the headers of the initial email that was sent to our competitors informing them that they have a database and contacting this supposed fraudster in India. We also got access to the email account via Google as we filed a fraud complaint with them."
He said the email headers showed that the email could not have been sent from India where the contractor is supposedly based. Additionally the fake mails used an actual contractor's name, but added a digit at the end.
Thrasyvoulou said: "So: all the evidence shows that someone (probably an envious competitor) got the name of a former contractor (which is very easy to get from places like LinkedIn etc), created a Gmail account in their name with a slightly different suffix and sent this out to competitors and the press. Its a lame attempt to hurt us."
The company is confident no customer data was compromised.
The site is one of several offering "bid for a contractor" services to small businesses but we had no idea competition in this market was so cut-throat. ®