His hirsuteness hears that a company named Xchange Dispute Resolution has been falsely identifying itself as an ICANN-authorized arbitrator in mailings that try to scare recipients into believing their domain name ownership is in dispute. The notice tells recipients they must mail a security deposit, which can range from $250 to $1,250, to Xchange to begin arbitration to retain the domain registration. ICANN posted an advisory on its Web site stating Xchange is not an approved provider of dispute resolution services under its Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. To the Furballs chagrin, more people than he would care to believe fall for these schemes.
Back in his Nov. 13, 2000, column, El Gato sent an early warning to readers about a company called Electronic Domain Name Monitoring, which was running a bogus domain registration operation. EDNM was faxing Webmasters false information that a third party was trying to register their companies names with another top-level domain, like .net or .org. After the scare tactics, EDNM offered to arbitrate on the trademark holders behalf and register the alternative domain name for a $70 fee. By the time the Federal Trade Commission finally shut down EDNM in February 2001, the feds estimated—the Furry One was shocked to learn—that 27,000 domain name holders had already fallen for the scam.
The Puss has also made joking references in past columns about whats widely known as the Nigerian 419 e-mail scam, assuming eWeek readers had also encountered the faux missives. In fact, the Katt and his cronies have always forwarded versions of it back and forth in comic disbelief to compare the various story lines of each new version of the scam. After all, thought Spence, who would ever believe e-mail that arrives unsolicited from African widows, doctors and bankers who have all somehow heard that you, of all people, might be just the one to help them smuggle lots of cash from their country?
Of course, to facilitate matters, they may need your bank account numbers or a few grand for shipping expenses. Sadly, the Nigeria 419 Coalition Web site (home.rica.net/alphae/419coal), claims the scam has made billions worldwide under various Nigerian governments since the 1980s and reportedly is the third- to fifth-largest industry there. The West Virginia-based Internet Fraud Complaint Center claims some U.S. victims recently lost more than $70,000 each to the scam. "I guess Im not as dumb as I look," mused the Mouser.
Spencer F. Katt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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