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Anatomy of a web-era business register scam

About three months ago, I got a ticket in which the sender claimed that a registration was about to expire. The subject line said %domainname” Expiration, and the contents looked like this:

There were a plethora of links to payment sites, so that we could pay for this service. If you’re unfamiliar with a) the workings of the web and b) classic scams, this might fool you. The text is well written, in correct english, and all the links lead where they claim to lead. Even so, this is a scam, and a classic one at that. If you’ve ever operated your own company, you will more than likely have seen a number of variants of these. They are known as business register scams; the seller offers you a listing in a business registry (or in this case “traffic generator software”), at high costs, the value of which is bupkis.

What makes this variant so insidious, is that it looks, at first glance, like a notice that a domain name is about to expire. True, they do say “We do not register or renew domain names”, but the rest of the email heavily implies otherwise. In the web era, these scams have even less legitimacy than they did in years past, and while there are firms out there who earn their keep performing search engine optimisation, these scams should not be confused as one of them.

As always in these cases, caveat emptor applies; read the text, and understand what you are agreeing to before signing or paying for anything.

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