Scammers Beware!

Back on 20th May, I wrote about some people are using the ABN or ACN details of legitimate companies or businesses to purchase domain names at the expired domain auctions.

In particular, I discovered there was a domain investor who had had his details used by someone else to acquire 16 domain names at Netfleet in recent times. Netfleet was informed, and I also wrote to auDA detailing all the domains.

The good news is that action has now been taken. All those 16 domains are now in Policy Delete status. Well done Netfleet and auDA.

One Down; Who’s Next?

In the previous article, I also mentioned my suspicions about someone falsely using the details of a company called Bremco Metal Products Pty Ltd.

Earlier this week, I managed to make contact with the owner of Bremco. Really nice guy. He was “gobsmacked” when I asked him if he had recently acquired 15 domains on the expired auctions at Netfleet. Of course, his answer was no. He put me in touch with his Digital Consultant, and together we are submitting the list to Netfleet and auDA.

Why is the type of situation a problem?

Very simply, it comes down to potential reputational damage. If a scammer uses a legitimate company’s details like Bremco to acquire a domain, and then (as an example) puts up an adult website, that’s not going to reflect well on Bremco.

Or another scenario could be that the scammer sells the domain to someone else; gets the money and then doesn’t transfer the domain. Suddenly Bremco is in the firing line. And whilst it has nothing to do with them, it still takes a lot of explaining.

What’s in it for the scammers?

So I ask myself why is this sort of activity on the rise? My theory (and I may very well be wrong), is that these domains are being purchased primarily for SEO benefits and lead generation. Let me give one example from the 15 domains currently in Bremco’s name.

businessconnect.com.au (I’m not hyperlinking this). The reason this was attractive to a scammer was because it had history. See WayBack machine screenshot below:

WayBack BusinessConnectIf you click on a few of the tabs on the current website, you will notice there is a link to a Sydney based SEO agency. I’m not suggesting that they’re the scammer – they could well be an innocent victim themselves.

Then there are a few businesses that have their own pages. I wonder if they are paying for these?

What do you think?

Ned O’Meara – 28th May 2016


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11 thoughts on “Scammers Beware!

  • tim
    May 28, 2016 at 10:29 am
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    its great that the domain investor is all sorted but is there anyway to track down the culprit?
    ok so they just lost a bunch of money but they are still out there to do it again.
    and even if they were caught what action could be taken especially if they are sitting in hong kong?

    in my experience SEO companies often farm out tedious work to overseas companies, the local bloke is just there to monitor resuls for the client and make sure they aren’t getting ripped of by bad linking techniques.

    if an overseas “bright spark” has invented this scam the SEO companies may not be aware amongst the mass of link listings also the OS company may be using the domain for all there clients @ the world.

    if you were to look at the domain now i can see what they are obviously doing but being in control means they can do what they want in the code unseen, things a normal anti-hacking setup would stop and clean but in this instance is allowed.

    so if they pay $500 for a domain and get 3 months out of it it could be a viable method once you divide the effect across say 20 clients @ the world. 500 / 20 =$25 each p/m then how long it lasts before being closed down is profit and be able to advetise to SEO companys they have 100’s of PR4 domains, just a thought.
    so thus its a “throw away, NEXT” investment.

    • May 28, 2016 at 1:07 pm
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      Credit card records?

  • May 28, 2016 at 1:02 pm
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    Amazing job, Neddy!

    You should hand-reg DomainPolice and put a picture of you on the site in blue overalls and a laptop with a flashing blue thumbdrive led light.

    ????????

    • Ned O'Meara
      May 29, 2016 at 8:36 am
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      @Robert – scammers cost everyone money and opportunity; plus cause damage generally.

      It costs registrars – Drop.com.au had some real issues in the past with scammers signing up; winning domains and then transferring them out to other registrars without paying. That’s obviously been tightened up since, but these shonks always find different ways to attack.

      It costs other domain investors – would you be pissed if a scammer beat you to a domain that you were after?

      It costs innocent registrants – think of the potential reputational damage these scammers could cause an innocent company.

      The Australian domain space has some of the tightest rules going – these are supposed to protect the integrity of our market. So it just pisses me when stuff like this happens.

      Rant over.

      • May 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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        I wasn’t being sarcastic!

        I was serious. amazing job! I’m not sure if anyone would have noticed if you hadn’t been on the case. So glad that you are onto this, of course!

        I have just been approached to sell a bunch of 3-letter .com.au in $US

        I am a bit suss about this, so I’ll let you know what comes of it.

         

        • Ned O'Meara
          May 29, 2016 at 3:19 pm
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          @Robert – I wasn’t having a go at you! 🙂 I know you feel the same way.

          I was just grateful you gave me the opportunity to expound further!

      • May 29, 2016 at 1:07 pm
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        Whereas if they had registered an Australian company themselves, this would all be legitimate.  The barrier to in is low.

  • May 28, 2016 at 1:04 pm
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    Ned thank you for blogging about this, it is worrying that some business owners will use legitimate companies information with out their knowledge to engage in such practices. I hope this type of thing stops.

    • Ned O'Meara
      May 29, 2016 at 8:24 am
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      @James – given that you’re one of the top SEO experts in Australia, have you seen this sort of thing happen much?

      Secondly, how do they really make decent money out of doing stuff like this? That’s what I don’t really understand.

  • May 28, 2016 at 1:08 pm
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    businessconnect.com.au regardless of the history is a desirable speculation.

    • Ned O'Meara
      May 29, 2016 at 8:25 am
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      @Garth – so you’re the one behind this? Hahahahaha. Just kidding of course. 😀

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