‘Con Artists’ Who Ran Domain-Renewal Scam Hit With $4.2 Million Judgment; Thousands Of Website Owners Tricked Into Paying Bogus Bills, FTC Says

Thousands of U.S. consumers, businesses and nonprofits were tricked into paying “bogus bills” for the renewal of their website domains by “con artists” in Canada, the FTC said.

A federal judge now has issued judgments of more than $4.2 million against the accused scammers. In the cases of three defendants, the judgment was suspended based on their inability to pay. A fourth defendant, Steven E. Dale, was ordered to pay the full amount of $4.2 million.

The sum is “immediately due and payable,” ruled U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr.

Consumers were led to believe they would lose their website addresses unless they paid invoices, which proved to be bogus. Another part of the scheme featured a claim that a “Search Optimization” service would “direct mass traffic” to consumers’ sites and that a “proven search engine listing service” would help consumers gain “a substantial increase in traffic,” the FTC said.

“[M]ost consumers who paid the defendants’ invoices did not receive any domain name registration services,” the FTC said, adding that the “search optimization” service “did not result in increased traffic to the consumers’ Web sites.”

Read the announcement from the FTC.

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