The man behind the latest domain name scam to hit New Zealand registrants was behind a similar scheme run last year.
As Computerworld Online reported earlier this week (Domain Names NZ falls foul of DNC) Domain Names NZ has been sending letters and faxes to registrants of .co.nz names offering to register the .net.nz equivalent of the name. The letters are made up to look like invoices, which is a breach of the terms and conditions for registration in the .nz space. They also relate to a registrant's existing registered name, which is also not allowed in .nz.
Domain Names NZ is run by an Australian company, Domain Names Australia. The Australian equivalent of the Domain Name Commissioner (DNC), the .au Domain Administration (auDA), says Domain Name Australia is run by Chesley Rafferty, who also ran Internet Registry, a company which conducted a similar campaign in both Australia and New Zealand in 2002 (see Commission talks with Aussie counterpart over registration spam). That campaign landed Rafferty in hot water with the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission). The ACCC is currently investigating whether Rafferty's latest business dealings breach the Federal Court Order prohibiting him from engaging in this kind of business.
The auDA has issued several warnings about Domain Names Australia with the latest being issued in July this year.
"AuDA has become aware that Domain Names Australia Pty Ltd (DNA) is sending letters and/or faxes to some domain name registrants regarding the .net.au version of their .au domain name being available or unregistered. The communication is headed “Domain Name Registration” and could, in auDA’s opinion, be easily mistaken for an invoice. To this extent, auDA considers that the communication could be misleading or deceptive."
New Zealand's DNC, Debbie Monahan, says that fortunately New Zealand registrants seem to be savvy enough not to be taken in by Domain Name NZ's letter. Monahan is monitoring the number of .net.nz registrations and says they are currently running at normal levels.
"Hopefully this means nobody's been taken in by their letter."
The DNC is currently working with the Registry Services to try to track down where the list of names originated.
"They've obviously got hold of an old list but they've also been targeting .com names and some new .co.nz ones as well."
The DNC is looking at IP addresses that have used the look up service in the past couple of months to see if there's a pattern. Monahan says she has tried to contact Domain Names NZ but hasn't managed to speak with anyone yet.
"We've even used old numbers from last time they did this, but they don't seem to be working."
Computerworld Online calls to the Auckland number listed on the Domain Names NZ website go unanswered.
The DNC says she is in contact with both the ACCC and New Zealand's own Commerce Commission over this matter.