Game Over For Domain-Squatter
Posing as a intellectual property lawyer and tricking people into giving away their domain names seemed like a good business David Scali, a Las Vegas resident. Unfortunately for him, the fun is now over and United States District Court in Los Angeles will soon provide him with the bill.
September 12, 2007
Scali, age 28, has been charged of wire fraud, which carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The defendant decided to plead guilty and his attorneys asked for a sentence ranging from probation to six months. However, it's up to the judge to decide.
According to the FBI, Scali's scam was rather simple: we would first search for websites with similar names to popular sites. Later, he would use an e-mail account under an alias and send e-mails to the sites' owners in which he would claim to be an intellectual property lawyer (sometimes affiliated with a New York law firm). The recipients were presented with two choices: they would either give up the site in the next 48 hours or face a $100,000 lawsuit.
The e-mails were sent during June and July 2006.
Currently Scali only stands accused on one count of wire fraud, following the complaint of one victim who gave up an Internet domain name very similar to www.citysearch.com.
The practice known as domain-squatting or typo-squatting is based on selling advertising on the misspelled versions of popular sites, versions that can generate a significant amount of traffic.