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When Scammers Are Protected by Legitimate Business

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No one likes to be taken advantage of. Especially when those who are targeted are most vulnerable, such as children, the elderly, or those without the tools or resources to fight back or protect themselves. (This is the most important reason we’ve created this website!)

Wouldn’t you like the opportunity to put a scammer out of business, expose his scam, take away his scam tools, or just make it tougher for him to take advantage of others? We love doing this! However, sometimes it isn’t possible because a scammer may be protected by a legitimate business who is making money off the scammer. We think that is what’s going on between a long-time scam site and a web hosting business that started in Germany called 1and1.com. Read on…

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This phishing scam to a fake LinkedIn web page came across our desk today:

1-LinkedIn message points to outstandingmuslim

It was so poorly constructed that the scammer’s link “View/reply to this message” didn’t even work and there in the middle of the email was the actual link pointing to a website named “outstandingmuslim[dot]com” instead of LinkedIn. And then we realized that we have seen this scam site used in scams before…. As long as a year ago. That’s unsual because most scammer websites will be shut down as they are exposed within days of creation. This is especially true if they host malware that harms computers. The web hosting companies will take them offline. So why wasn’t this one taken down? We decided to do a little digging into this…

We double-checked with the Zulu Online Risk Analyzer to confirm that the website “outstandingmuslim[dot]com” was still malicious. It is. Zulu even reported that Google identified it as a site that delivers malware causing computer infections.

2-outstandingmuslim zulu score3-zulu Google blacklist due to malware
Next we double-checked with Google to see what it told us about the domain “outstandingmuslim[dot]com.” It wasn’t good… Notice that Google says “This site may harm your computer.” (Should you ever see that warning, its important NOT to click the link to the website!)

4-Google says harmful - virustotal
We noticed that the third link down was to a report at virustotal.com. What did virustotal.com have to say about outstandingmuslim[dot]com?
4b-virustotal of outstandingmuslim
Virustotal.com reported LOTS of malware on the website and the records identified outstandingmuslim[dot]com as a malware-delivering website going back years. So we wondered…. If this website is a known malware distributer causing computer infections for months or even years, why hasn’t it been shut down? Our next step was to see who owned this website and where was it hosted.
5-outstandingmuslim whois 3We suspected it was owned by some shady criminal hiding in the far corners of the Internet and hosted on a server in some tiny country we can’t spell. But we were wrong…

5-outstandingmuslim whois 1

A WHOIS lookup of outstandingmuslim[dot]com showed that it is being hosted right here in the United States by a company named 1and1.com. Not only is 1and1.com hosting this dangerous website but if you look closely at the WHOIS record, you’ll see that 1and1.com has been hosting the site since 2006 AND they offer a privacy protection service to them. This means that the real owners of the website are being protected by 1and1.com, for a fee of course.

We found that to be really strange. Oustandingmuslim[dot]com has been delivering scams and malware for years. Why would a United States business allow this to continue? 1and1.com hosts millions of domains, perhaps they don’t know that they are enabling one of their clients to do bad things to other people? Or perhaps they know and they don’t care. Businesses, like people, develop reputations. We decided to do a simple query about 1and1.com’s reputation using Google and the words malicious websites and scams. Here’s what Google returned…
6-one and one-com6-one and one-com 2

The list of links to people and businesses around the Internet calling 1and1.com scammers, cheats and much worse, is long and goes back years. If you Google 1and1.com along with “better business bureau” you’ll see links to thousands of complaints going back many years as well.

So, dear readers, what’s the point of this? There are two that impact every one of us…

1. When the scammers who prey upon others are allowed to hide behind legitimate businesses looking to make a buck, we all suffer. Caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware. We should stay away from businesses with shady, and especially blatantly offensive, business practices.

2. Why are there no laws in the United States to protect people from these predatory practices? Yes, the leeches can move their businesses to countries where our laws do not apply, but that should not stop our government from doing the right thing to protect its citizens. Sadly, the laws in the United States are terribly inadequate at addressing crimes perpetrated using the Internet. At the very least, our government leaders should create a special division or task force to begin to understand these problems and make recommendations for dealing with them. Until then, we are left to fend for ourselves. Good luck with that.

 

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