There’s an article in today’s Salt Lake Tribune about an indictment against a person who allegedly created companies that allegedly tricked businesses and individuals into paying around $1.8 million for “phony renewal services” for domain names.
The Acting US Attorney in Utah sent out a press release announcing the news that a 24 count mail fraud and money laundering indictment was issued for Ronald Robert Scott of Draper, Utah. The mail fraud charges carry potential penalties of up to 20 years in jail each, and the money laundering charges potentially carry penalties of up to 10 years in jail for each charge. The indictment also seeks a return of $1,864.484.51.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune article,
The indictment alleges that Scott created two fictitious entities, DomainNameUSA.net and Netsolutions.net, and obtained mailing lists of entities throughout the nation and their domain names.
He then allegedly created invoices telling the registrants that their domain name was about to expire and asking for renewal fees ranging from $25 to $199 for periods of one to five years.
I have received plenty of official-looking letters in the mail regarding domain name renewals, but since I know my domain registrars very well, I have always thrown these letters in the trash.
From what I’ve seen in Google (searching for domain name renewal scam, there are a number of companies that send similar letters in the mail. Andrew has an article about one, PC World discusses an email-based domain renewal scam, and even CatholicWeb.com has information about something that sounds similar.
Keep in mind, as the press release further notes, “an indictment is not a finding of guilt. Defendants charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.“