Australian domain name registrars ordered to pay 1.95M $
On Friday June 15th, 2018

Australian domain name registrars ordered to pay 1.95M $

Domain name Corp Pty Tld and Domain Name Agency Pty tld have been recently punished by the ACCC (Australian Commission for Competition and Consumers) for violating the Australian customer Law.
 

For 18 months, these 2 companies managed by Steven Bell were sending unsolicited notices to domain name users. These notices which had the same form to those used for domain name renewal, were actually invoices for domain registrations. Registrars displayed the content a domain name identical to the recipient’ one (only the extension differed), causing confusion since he thought renewing his domain name, while he was actually registering a new one.
 

Over 300 000 notifications were sent, fooling companies by their similarity with renewal invoices and the recipient domain names. In total, this scam would have yielded over $ 2.3 million ! The operation targeted mainly small businesses deemed less inclined to question the legitimacy of the bill, “These sham operations target small businesses, capitalizing on a lack of understanding of the domain name system or a busy office environment” as explained Delia Rickard, ACCC acting chair.
 

However, as shown in this testimony several suspicious elements were brought to light:
 

  • The domain name extension : Notices indicated a .com domain name, and most Australian companies are actually using the ".com.au" which is Australia's second-level extension.
     
  • The domain name price : Usually the pricing of a .com domain name is about 10-15 dollars while the amount shown on these bills ranged from 249.00 to 275.00 $ / year.

 

Sanctions : Domain name Corp and Domain name agency were sentenced to pay $ 1.5 million and $ 450,000 respectively. The court also prohibited Mr. Bell from running a company for the next 5 years and sentenced him to pay $ 8,000 to the ACCC.

The court also ordered an injunction which obliges these registrars to indicate “This notice does not relate to the registration of your current domain name. This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money” when sending unsolicited notices containing an offer to register a domain name similar to the recipient’s one.

 

 

 

Victor JULIA


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