« Bush Administration Restates Position on Proposed Internet Traffic Policing Rules | Main | Courts Checking Executive Power to Get Americans' Communications, Experts Say »

Fraudster Who Impersonated a Lawyer to Steal Domain Names Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

By Ryan Singel EmailSeptember 06, 2007 | 6:30:14 PMCategories: Crime  

A Nevada man pleaded guilty Thursday to his plotting to steal domain names URLs from their legitimate owners by impersonating a California intellectual property lawyer and send threatening letters to domain name owners in hopes of convincing them to turn over the domains to him.

Las Vegas resident David Scali registered the email address trademarkinfringement@netzero.net in 2006 and then, pretending to be a real Califonia lawyer (whose intials are K.Y.C.), threatened domain name owners with $100,000 trademark infringement suits, unless they transferred the domains within 48 hours.

Scali pleaded guilty to a single wire fraud charge in a Los Angeles federal court in regards to one case where a victim turned over a domain name similar to citysearch.com.  Scali intended to use the domains to make money, most likely by putting ads on the sites to show to visitors who got to the site by mistyping a domain name (domain squatting).

While wire fraud charges carry a maximum of 20 years in the pokey, Scali's plea bargain calls for the government to ask for a sentence of probation to six months. Scali will also face fines and will have his computer usage monitored during probation.

Moral of the story: On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog (or lolcat)-- but they might suspect you're not the IP lawyer you say you are. I mean what high powered intellectual property lawyer would use a Netzero account?

Lolcat photo built via Lolcatbuilder using image from bovinemagnet

See more Threat Level
Ryan Singel |
Kevin Poulsen |
Sarah Lai Stirland |
Kim Zetter |
David Kravets |

* : Tech News, Gadget Reviews, and Special Offers - all delivered to your mobile device.

syndication feed Add to your favorite feed reader. Find more Wired.com feeds, including web-based news reader feeds, here.