January 23, 2012
Previously, domain name scams usually arrived via email; but now it seems the telephone is being increasingly used as a tool by fraudsters to target registrants.
The evolution of Voice Over IP (VoIP) communications has been of huge benefit in some ways, allowing for international calls to be made via services such as Skype for just a few cents a minute. Unfortunately, the economy of VoIP has also made it a very cheap way to conduct scams across international borders.
According to UK-based Nominet, the registry that manages the operation of the .uk domain name extension, some .uk registrants are being contacted via telephone by persons claiming to have 3rd party ownership of the registrant's domain. A demand for money is made, along with a threat that if the funds aren't received, they will sell the domain name.
Another type of approach has also been reported on Mondaq. In the incident described, the fraudster claimed to be a domain name registrar who had been contacted by a third party interested in a domain name similar to that owned by the person. That third party was applying for both a similar .com and a .co.uk domain name and as it was a "trading name" the scammer was obliged to inform the registrant and give the target the opportunity to register the domains first.
This particular ploy is common via email and has previously been known as the Asian Domain Name Scam. As mentioned in our article on the topic, these types of approaches should be ignored or if a need to register the domains is realised, do so through a trusted registrar.
Given domain name related scams are now occurring via phone, it's just another communications medium registrants need to be wary of. While it appears this is only happening in the UK at this stage, at some point these people will no doubt set their sights on Australian domain name registrants.
The same advice applies as with email communications, deal only with your own registrar when it comes to issues pertaining to your domain name and ensure that is who is actually contacting you.
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