Malicious spammers have hit Cambridgeshire police with a denial of service attack by threatening recipients of emails to charge their credit cards unless they call a 'customer service' number that is actually the main switchboard number for the force.
ZDNet UK's sister site silicon.com was alerted to the attack by several readers who received the spam email, which claims to come from a non-existent company called "Huntingdon Mail Order" with the subject line "transaction receipt". It says the recipient's credit card is about to be billed for £399.95 for a 40GB iPod MP3 player.
But the "customer service" number listed at the end of the email, with the quite deliberate aim that concerned recipients will call it, is the phone number of Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
A reply email address given in the spam is for "ukcards.com", which appears to be a portal with links to various finance, loan and gambling Web sites.
The Cambridgeshire police switchboard was engaged several times when silicon.com tried to call the number and when we finally got through an operator confirmed they had been inundated with calls about a credit card transaction.
A spokesman for the force was not immediately available for comment but confirmed the problem is being looked into.
The latest attack signals an alarming shift in tactics by spammers who earlier this week targeted anti-spam organisation SpamHaus with a similar email.