The emails, sent by a company called Dot Biz Domain Renewal, warn businesses their .biz domains are due for renewal and gives details of how to pay by credit card on its website, www.domain-renewal.biz.
But the earliest that .biz domain names need to be renewed is November 2003, as these names could not be purchased originally until November 2001 for an initial period of two years.
Dot Biz Domain Renewal is also claiming that it is an accredited registrar. But the only body that accredits registrars is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for Top Level Domain Names (TLDs), currently .com, .net and .org. Dot Biz Domain Renewal’s name does not appear on ICANN’s list of accredited registrars.
Another major worry is the website does not use secure http, so credit card details could be hacked.
In addition, the postal address that the company is using in Regent Street, London, uses a non-existent postcode, W1R 7PB.
VNU News Centre went to the address and found that although it was the office address for a number of legitimate companies there was no sign of Dot Biz Domain Renewal. Security personnel at the building had no knowledge of the company.
But the same address – including the same non-existent postcode – has been used by another company that set itself up as a web hosting firm, Dot Com Avenue run by a Peter Francis Macrae.
Macrae is currently under investigation for fraud by Cambridgeshire Trading Standards and Cambridgeshire Police and is currently on police bail.
The registrant of the domain-renewal.biz domain name is listed as a Mel Goudie, who also owns a company called domainrenewals.biz. Earlier this year that company sent out emails similar to those sent by domain-renewal.biz.
VNU News Centre has called and sent emails to Goudie and his company, but to date there has been no response.
The emails sent out by domain-renewal.biz have prompted some web hosting companies, such as Internetters and dot.biz registry Neulevel, to post warnings on their websites and email customers.
Ken Sorrie, co-founder and director of Internetters, told VNU News Centre that domain name owners should be alert: ‘People should always check out the credentials of the companies sending emails like this. Very often such unsolicited domain name renewals appearing to come from UK based addresses but actually transfers the domain names to another registrar somewhere on the other side of the globe.’
Detective Constable Jody Faro of Cambridgeshire police, who is leading the investigation into Peter Francis Macrae, said that anyone who had any concerns about Dot Com Avenue or Dot Biz Domain Renewal could email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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