The Federal Trade Commission has permanently halted the operations of Canadian con artists who allegedly posed as domain name registrars and convinced thousands of U.S. consumers, small businesses and nonprofit organizations to pay bogus bills by leading them to believe they would lose their website addresses unless they paid. Settlement and default judgment orders signed by the court will bar the deceptive practices in the future.
In June 2008, the FTC charged Toronto-based Internet Listing Service with sending fake invoices to small businesses and others, listing the existing domain name of the consumer’s Web site or a slight variation on the domain name, such as substituting “.org” for “.com.” The invoices appeared to come from the businesses’ existing domain name registrar and instructed them to pay for an annual “WEBSITE ADDRESS LISTING.”
The invoices also claimed to include a search engine optimization service.
Most consumers who received the “invoices” were led to believe that they had to pay them to maintain their registrations of domain names. Other consumers were induced to pay based on Internet Listing Service’s claims that its “Search Optimization” service would “direct mass traffic” to their sites and that their “proven search engine listing service” would result in “a substantial increase in traffic.”
Read more: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/08/ils.shtm