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Oz domain name scammer declares bankruptcy

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Australian domain name scammer Bradley Norrish has declared himself bankrupt.

Bradley Norrish, along with business partner Chesley Rafferty, ran an outfit called UK Internet Registry, and three other firms, which sent 50,000 fake invoices to domain name holders in the UK during 2003. The information needed to mount the scam was obtained from a data mining attack on the .uk WHOIS database.

The scale of the attack was so severe that Nominet, the .uk internet domain name registry, was forced to suspend its WHOIS database, which allows people to check the registrants of domain names for nine hours to prevent further abuse.

Nominet linked the attack back to UK Internet Registry and sued the firm and its directors for breach of copyright and offences against Australian fair trade laws.

An Australian court upheld Nominet's complaint, paving the way for it to sue for costs and damages. In January 2006, Nominet was awarded A$1.3m ($970K) in damages against Chesley Rafferty and Bradley Norrish for copyright infringement, as well as an additional A$500K ($373K) stipend to reflect the "flagrancy" of the breaches.

In a letter, published by Domainwatch, Norrish said although he'd been forced to declare himself broke because of legal judgments against him, he might yet return to the domain name business.

"I'm sure most of you on the domain list will be pleased to hear I am now declared officially bankrupt. This will undoubtedly bring varying levels of happiness to those involved in selling domains from those who raise a slight smile, to those who leap enthusiastically out of their chairs," Norrish writes.

"It was officially at 4.50pm yesterday afternoon that the Pink Bankruptcy Card was raised to send me off the field for three years. So a big congratulations to the captain of the opposite team Nominet as well as all their supporters. If the game's still worth playing in three years time I might just get a recall, and if I do you know it will be with fresh legs."

Nominet said the rocky financial straits Norrish finds himself in are a just a consequence of his abuse of the WHOIS registry. Nominet chief executive Lesley Cowley commented: "The bankruptcy brings an appropriate and successful end to the litigation against the directors of UK Internet Registry and proves that data mining the WHOIS is a serious industry issue that Nominet will not tolerate.

"It has been a long, expensive and often challenging process, but we take protection of our intellectual property and copyright ownership very seriously. This case proves that we can and will detect, track down and sue for WHOIS infringement to protect our business and our .uk registrants from domain name scams," she added. ®

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