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Domain name fraud

Purchasing domain names and reselling them for profit, just like properties, is considered profitable, and many try to establish saleable domains to make money from them. 

For example, the boom in grocery sales through online shopping during the lockdowns led to the setting up of fake domains impersonating popular supermarket chains like Asda or Amazon to deceive unsuspecting customers into divulging credentials.  

Many brands do not even know copycats have exploited their names to create spoofed or duplicate sites elsewhere. Some brands are using AI-enabled checks to avoid cyber attacks. 

They scan all requests and monitor activities to recognise the automated takedowns and discover & destroy illegitimate requests. 

Fraudulent domain name sellers are people who charge you for a website address that you never own. Some people get calls or messages to buy a specific domain name. 

Although a reputable domain name is important to set up a firm and help it grow online, it can be registered for a small investment of $8 to $10. Some criminals use attractive domain names to commit offences. Many fake domains have a reliable address like co. UK, giving the shoppers a sense of security. 

For example - A popular magazine's name appeared with an article on a bogus site, or users were asked to register to a site appearing to be coming from NHS for their COVID jabs, or messages appearing to be coming from gov.co.uk regarding the current census where the authorities seek information like age, nationality, education, and other details. 

The buyers can see the server name is often fake. Anyone can buy the address that ends with .com, but those ending with .gov.uk are available only to the government bodies. The address may have a minor change as compared to the original site. 

The emails sent by such addresses have various missing data. Some scammers send small/ short emails to avoid committing spelling mistakes, but the improper use of language can help recognise them.

How Does It Happen?

  • Sometimes, people get unsolicited calls from sales teams that want to offer them a domain name, and they may put pressure on them to buy it. Therefore, you should research with the provider and get such sites only through a trusted seller. 

  • Also, get all the invoices and reports from the sellers; if you suspect them, you can challenge them in case of cheating. And to avoid a loss, you can report and file a lawsuit against such a group of people. 

How To Identify It?

  • Suppose you are called by a stranger and offered a desirable domain name. Also, they may pressure you to take an immediate decision as other buyers seek the same address. 

  • You are billed for an address you do not use or asked to make payments for the invoices against domain name registration, where you never contacted the suppliers. 

  • Some sellers may ask you to get a domain name suitable for your business or name, and they pressure you to buy in a limited time to avoid losing the deal, but you are not aware of the worth of the domain or its trade. 

  • The seller wants you to make payments, and they disappear after getting the money without fulfilling the promise. You cannot even claim a refund in such a case as the bills are bogus. 

Most domain names are registered for a year, and the websites are taken down in a second when they expire. Anyone who tries to contact the site owner may be unable to log in and may not even have any evidence of the loss.  

It can impact the business's reputation. Therefore, it is advised to register a domain through a reliable provider who can give all the needed security features. 

Some get bogus invoices for the renewal from suppliers you never contacted before. Sometimes, the address gets hijacked by malicious groups. There are laws to protect such activities, but most court proceedings are expensive and take a long time to resolve. 

In case you suspect a crime, report it to the authorities.

Date Published: Sep 12, 2023

Types of fraud

A-Z of fraud

To help understand which fraud you've been affected by, we've categorised them into an alphabetical list.

What is fraud and cyber crime?

Cybercrimes can be of two types. First, it can be cyber dependent, where the fraudsters use online devices to convince the victim to accept their offers.

Advance fee fraud

If you are trying to get a loan for a house or a car, they ask to meet the provider to get the financing arrangement and pay the finder's fee in advance.

Corporate fraud

Corporate frauds can be complicated, committed either by the firm or an individual. Nevertheless, it mostly involves cheating where the employee or the firm.

Individual fraud

There are many types of individual frauds related to advance fees, investments, insurance brokers, bogus tradespeople, Ponzi schemes, pension liberation.

Online fraud

Hence the number of cases of online fraud is increasing each year, and most such cases include – account takeover, direct frauds, or scams related domain names.

Identity fraud and identity theft

The criminal uses the stolen identity of another person living or deceased to conduct unlawful activities like obtaining goods or services in another's name.

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