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Domain resale market a 'haven' for phishers

The lure of filthy lucre

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Domain names likely to appeal to fraudsters are up for grabs on domain resale sites.

Firms such as Sedo and Moniker specialise in the sale of domain names that have already been registered and are now being resold in the secondary (or aftermarket) for domain names. Most domain names are sold for a few hundred or thousand dollars (as opposed to an original registration price of $10 or so) while particularly attractive domains - such as hell.com - can fetch six figure sums.

However, Finish security firm F-Secure has discovered that alongside the sale of such innocuous domains as filmlist.com comes the resale of domains that obviously belong to banks or other financial institutions. Sedo.com, for example, is reselling domains like chasebank-online.com, citi-bank.com and bankofameriuca.com. "Why would anybody want to buy these domains unless they are the bank themselves - or a phishing scammer?", F-Secure asks. The firm lists around 30 examples in a posting on its blog here.

F-Secure also found out that Sedo.com was reselling accented domain names that have been created using letters "á" and "í" instead of the normal "a" or "i" to create highly deceptive domain names like vísa.com, pàypal.com and paypàl.com. "Domain name resellers should filter out obvious phishing site names," it said.

Sedo told TechWeb that it had a process for pulling domain names but because of the sheer volume of domains on sale through its site it relied on trademark holders to notify it of potential problems. "We have more than six million domains for sale," said Jeremiah Johnston, Sedo's general counsel. "It's impossible for us to proactively filter sales." ®

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