Another Deceptive-Domain-Name Scammer Targets AOLers
Date: Wednesday February 19 2003, @06:32AM
Topic: Laugh (or Cry)

dtobias writes "There has been yet another occurrence of a scam artist getting people's private information by setting up a site under a domain that gives an impression of affiliation with a more trusted entity. Earlier, such scams have been done to target customers of Ebay and PayPal, among others; this one targets users of AOL."

"As reported in the Risks digest, this new scammer is at . This page has a very official-looking form purporting to supply information required in order that an AOL account remain active, including credit card numbers and other personal identifying information.

More discerning viewers will note a number of "red-flag" items about the page, however. For instance, though the form's text claims that the information will be transmitted securely, in fact both the page URL and the form destination URL are "http:" rather than "https:" protocol, so in fact the form data is transmitted in an entirely insecure way without the SSL protocol. Viewing the source of the page shows that it's a frameset whose main frame is actually on the free hosting provider GeoCities. And the WHOIS information on the domain shows that it belongs to an individual, not to AOL. Closer examination of the form's hidden fields in the page source (or the Mozilla browser's "Page Info" form tab, a very useful tool) indicates that the form contents apparently get e-mailed to a Hotmail free e-mail address.

The relevance of all of this to domain name issues is that, once again, the more gullible members of the public are getting hoodwinked by a con artist taking advantage of the fact that so many legitimate sites exist that use Stupid Unnnecessary Domain Names™ rather than logical subdomains of the parent domain. Marketing departments are enamored of directing customers to a domain name containing the Cute Slogan De Jour, and as a result, the customer, even a fairly sophisticated one, has every reason to believe that actually is an official AOL site. After all, Citibank has genuine sites, sometimes seeking input of personal information, at addresses ranging from and and and to the further-afield and .

If companies would make a point of using only logical subdomains, at least for sites that require customer trust, then the ability of such scams to work would be greatly reduced. Consumers should be educated into knowledge that a subdomain, like, can't be cybersquatted, but a separate domain like can -- so the former is much more trustworthy."

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Education, education, education...
by ldg on Wednesday February 19 2003, @11:41PM (#11196)
User #2935 Info |
It makes little sense to acquire dozens of domains for use the way citibank has. It's irritating to customers as well if they are at all security conscious and pay attention to the sites to which they are redirected.

It is also interesting to note that holders of second level domains (i.e., have the delegation of those domains and can, in fact, delegate third and lower levels themselves. Of course they then have the responsibility as any other registry does to keep them operational.

In any case, it makes much more sense to use subdomains for intercompany business and no one should EVER submit sensitive information to an insecure site.

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Site shut down
by dtobias ( on Thursday February 20 2003, @04:32AM (#11200)
User #2967 Info |
The site in question seems to have been shut down by the domain registrar... the address doesn't resolve, and the WHOIS record has all contacts as "Registrant Defaulted (".
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
How can this domain be deceptive?
by WIPOorgUK on Thursday February 20 2003, @07:13AM (#11202)
User #3146 Info |
'AOL' can be used as a trademark by many different types of businesses all over the world.

It was used for metal bolts, screws and nuts.

But most domains are not owned by registered trademark.

And yet ALL words and initials are confusingly similar to trademarks - as virtually every word has been trademarked - most many times over in different type of business and/or country.

The registered trademark symbol identifies them in physical world.

Can one single stupid idiot say it is not obvious to replace this symbol with a protected TLD in cyberspace?

Other than the usual twit - who has yet to come out with reasoned argument, as to why registered trademarks should NOT be identified on the Internet.

Like - people KNOW .gov sites are used by government departments.


Can anybody tell me - how can that be any other business?
[ Reply to This | Parent ]

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