Typo-Squatting (Misspelled Domain Name scams)
Typo-squatting is the practice of creating domain names that are often misspelled names for bigger brands.
For example: Runescape is a popular free MMORGP (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). There are sites which names are misspelled versions of Runescape. A few I encountered while playing:
- online scams
- pay by click ads - which feature popular search terms for the original site. The misspelled site gets payed every time someone clicks on one of those.
- Spyware and Adware
Popular targets for this practice is google, apple, microsoft,
For example, I will demonstrate the case of the iphone:
By the end of 2007, at least 8,000 URLs using the word iphone will be registered, according to a well known domain expert. The most valuable iphone.com is owned by Apple itself, but when Steve Jobs announced the product early in 2007, Apple didn't own the iphone domain yet. One expert estimates that Apple paid at least $1 million to buy that piece of valuable Web real estate.
Among the 8,000 registered URLs incorporating iphone are community fan sites, rumor and hack sites and, of course, scam sites. Freeappleiphonesnow dot com claims to offer free iPhones and variants that don't even exist (like the iPhone "shuffle" and "nano".) The URL is nothing more than a redirect to royalsweeps dot com . When we tested the site, we received debt consolidation offers, get rich quick solicitations, "free" cell phone prizes and other questionable e-mail.
Many of the iphone-related domains are misspellings, or typos. Iohone dot com, for example, was registered on January 9, 2007, the day Apple officially announced the iPhone. In August 2007, the site consisted of pay-per-click ads for iPhone-related Web sites.
Microsoft says that on an average day more than 2,000 domain names are registered that contain Microsoft trademark terms.
According to the US Government Accounting Office, at least 8.65% of all domain names are registered with false or incomplete Whois information, a practice that makes domain squatting easier.
More recently, in September 2007, the managers of the .eu top level domain suspended 10,000 domains registered by a Chinese woman who was accused of being a cyber-squatter.
The first two Images are from the domains Freeappleiphonesnow and Iohone The other images are from microsoft dot cm and another website that results in 482 spammy emails a week. The last image is from McAfee