Beware of domain name fraud

We have been alerted that businesses are being targeted by fraudsters as part of a new domain name fraud.

By John Pickervance, Forbes Solicitors.

This new scam involves fraudsters contacting businesses with an opportunity to purchase a domain name which appears to be suitable for that particular business. Pressure is put on the business by telling them that if they do not agree to purchase the domain name there and then, someone else will purchase it.

This is seeing businesses panic and buy the domain names without looking in to the legitimacy of the offer or the person on the other end of the phone. The fraudsters claim that they are calling from the “Trade Marks Intellectual Property Office”, take payment over the phone and then cut all contact, never handing over the promised domain name.

Businesses are also being targeted by way of bogus invoices demanding payment of a renewal fee or registration fee for domain names which the business doesn’t event use.

The fraudsters are also doing their research and sending these invoices to businesses in respect of their own, legitimately owned, domain names in an attempt to trigger payments from unsuspected businesses.

One example invoice which has been received by some businesses has been sent from “DNS Europa Intellectual Property Agency” and requests payment for domain name registration which is to be paid in to a bank account in Amsterdam.

Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre has identified a number of signs to look out for if you receive any contact in respect of a domain name:

  1. You are called out of the blue with an offer of a very desirable domain name;
  2. You are told that someone else is about to buy the domain name unless you buy it straight away;
  3. You are invoiced for a domain name that you do not use, or from a supplier you have never used.

If you have any concerns about any calls or invoices you receive about a domain name you should report it to Action Fraud immediately on 0300 123 2040.

Domain names are electronic addresses for websites and can be very valuable commodities with the most desirable domain names being sold for millions of pounds.

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