July 18, 2014
A new scam has appeared - very official looking, but very fake ICANN domain name 'certificates'.
It appears registrants of generic Top Level Domains (gTLD's) such as .COM, .NET and .ORG are being targeted in the scam. The fraudsters approach the registrant stating the fraudulent certificates are required to protect domain names and pressure the target into purchasing the worthless documents.
The dodgy certificates are professionally designed and include an unauthorized use of the ICANN logo.
"Please note that ICANN does not issue certificates to registrants and does not collect fees from registrants directly," says part of a statement on the organisation's web site.
"ICANN is currently investigating these cases and advises registrants who encounter similar incidents to report to ICANN immediately via an email to Contractual Compliance at [email protected]."
ICANN stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Among other roles, it is the body that oversees Internet's global Domain Name System and accredits registrars in the gTLD space.
Another ICANN themed scam active earlier this year was in relation to domain name appraisals. Targets are sent to a site, usually with the word "icann" in the name, to have a valuation of their domains performed - for a fee. ICANN do not provide this service and domain name appraisal services should generally be treated with caution.
The certificate and appraisal scam are just two of many ways fraudsters attempt to extract money from domain name registrants. One of the most common ploys is to send registrants what looks to be a renewal notice, but is actually a registration application for a domain with the same name, but a different extension. A twist on the renewal scam is where the registrant unknowingly agrees to transfer their domain to another registration service.
Emails and other communications relating to domains a registrant is in control of should be scrutinised carefully. If in doubt, the registrant's registrar should be contacted directly to ascertain if the communication is genuine.
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