February 10, 2005 9:02 AM PST

Vigilantes launch attack on scam sites

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Internet vigilantes have launched a 48-hour bandwidth attack against spammers who allegedly defraud people online.

The 419 Flash Mob, supported by Artists Against 419, has declared war on criminals who host fake bank Web sites in the hope of luring victims to deposit money there. The attacks began Wednesday.

According to Artists Against 419's Web site, "This flash mob is in celebration of Chinese New Year...Our aim is to shut down eight fake bank web sites in less than 48 hours!"

The criminals who operate so-called 419 scams, also known as advance fee fraud, send out e-mails, letters and faxes asking for help to recover a large sum of money from a bank, in return for a share of the loot. Some of these scammers have now graduated to running their own fake banking Web sites.

The 419 Flash Mob is attempting to recruit as many people as possible to launch denial-of-service attacks on spammers' bandwidth and report them to their Web hosts and to legal authorities. The Web site provides contact details of computer crime units in seven countries.

Web sites with the following banks names are being attacked: Abbey Trust & Offshore Bank; First Global Trust; Allied Trust Bank UK (which is listed twice because two separate Web sites use this name); Crystal Bonds & Securities; Kash Bank Corp.; Liberty Stronghold Securities and Finance; and BBVA Finance & Clearinghouse.

Most of these sites are hosted by one service provider in China which could not be contacted by phone, but Crystal Bonds & Securities appeared to be hosted in the United Kingdom. A call to Crystal Bonds & Securities' switchboard was answered by a man who initially said he represented Crystal Bonds & Securities. He then claimed to know nothing about the organization, but was interested to hear more about Artists Against 419 and the group's denial-of-service attacks.

Dan Ilett of ZDNet UK reported from London.


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I'd like to be the first to say that we need more of these vigilante groups kicking the crap out of the scammers... If the government can't/wont do anything about the bastards, then the people SHOULD!

No more will the scammers prey on the uninformed, weak, and gullible.
I applaud your efforts vigilantes... and wish you continued success in knocking these guys offline!

/end rant.
Posted by (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're one of the few that would hope more of these groups develop and take on tasks no one else is willing to do. I'm one too. I think that "hackers" have been given a bad name. A lot of them go after corporations for particular reasons, usually for poor and unethical employee treatment.

Let's hope these guys can knock these scammers off line.
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
Completely Disagree
Vigilantism is illegal. It can only be justified by ignoring valid and worthwhile laws. I disagree with your sentiment, and would never, ever support this type of behavior. The solution to illegal crimes is not to add more criminals to the mix. Not by a long shot.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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Sign me up
Hit 'em up, fellas.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
DOS for phish sites as well
I got an email to fix my pwrd at a bank I dont belong to, then it hit me, why dont I do a DOS attack on these phishers? I am glad truth is universal and someone is doing something about it.
Posted by VbMan (5 comments )
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Easy Answer
<<why dont I do a DOS attack on these phishers?>>

Because, they would prosecute you, and win. Then, a phishing organization gains validation under the law, and a frustrated person such as yourself ends up in jail.

Brilliant. Ignoring the law is not the solution.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
DDoS for Hire?
I don't know about this really. Yeah sure it is a good idea to fight back but all this is starting to sound the DDoS Mafia that the NYPD caught last year. So what do you do? Do you go up to the Don and kiss his cable modem so he can make you an offer you can't refuse?? What the...??

Posted by (4 comments )
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two thoughts
1) What if these or some other well meaning folks accidentally launch a bandwidth attack on a real bank or credible institution with a similar sounding name? Maybe not this time, but maybe next time.

2) If this idea takes off, will the lawful authorities eventually have to split their time between going after the vigilantes and the spammer criminals?
Posted by (61 comments )
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Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
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The Wild West was tamed by hired guns...
Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, et al. weren't really the kinds of folks you'd want running your city hall in a modern metropolis.

But they filled a real need and tamed the Wild West. So the idea is a valid one...and certainly not unprecedented...even if there are a few troubling aspects to be worked out.

We need to provide a way to charter Web Deputies, Bounty-Hunters, etc. to take on the Spam-Vandals, Phishers, and other criminals who use the Web for evil purposes.

Maybe we need to start with a "Hanging Judge" chartered by the Attorney General with powers to deputize hunters, authorize bounties, and enlist specialized organizations as "hired guns" to take down the worst spammers by any means necessary. Hanging offenses would include running an unauthorized program on a machine belonging to someone else, "grand theft" of community bandwidth by causing more than "xxxx" unsolicited messages to be sent in any 24 hour period, etc.

By using subcontractors, creating 'reward funds', and instituting 'tips hotlines', we can defeat these jerks using the same models we have used in the past to make our physical streets safer.
Posted by landlines (54 comments )
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