W. W. Williams says fraudsters uses domain name to try to trick suppliers to send merchandise.
Usually when a cybersquatter grabs a domain similar to a company’s name, the cybersquatter just hopes to make a few bucks from a parked page.
But sometimes the perpetrator has much more nefarious plans.
W.W. Williams, which provides services and products to industrial companies, alleges that’s the case with the registrant of WWWilliamsInc.com.
The company uses the domain WWWilliams.com; the alleged cybersquatter merely added “inc” to the end.
According to a lawsuit (pdf) the company filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio on Friday, the registrant of the domain tried to pull off a sophisticated fraud of W.W. Williams’ suppliers.
W. W. Williams claims the registrant had a scheme that went like this:
1. establish customer accounts and credit terms with suppliers by posing as W.W. Williams
2. the suppliers would ship the merchandise to the address provided by the defendants
3. not pay for the merchandise
4. the suppliers, believing the the orders had been placed by W. W. Williams would then seek payment for the merchandise from the company
The lawsuit included some examples of the fraudulent purchase orders (pdf) including various shipping addresses. One purchase order is for what appears to be $20,000 worth of wireless microphones. Another is for $40,000 worth of portable gas monitors.
WWWilliamsInc.com was registered on March 7 to someone using Go Daddy’s Domains by Proxy service. W. W. Williams says it contacted Domains by Proxy multiple times, but the whois proxy service declined to give out the registrant’s information. However, emails from Domains by Proxy that are included in the lawsuit show that the service said it would move to unmask the owner’s information if the customer did not respond by March 28. The lawsuit was filed March 29 against Domains by Proxy and the whois record on the domain now shows the registrant, so I’m not sure why W. W. Williams filed the lawsuit the day it should have received the whois information.
Whois shows the domain is registered to a Scottsdale man, although it’s possible the information is incorrect.
You would think that this scheme would be difficult to pull off. Not only does W. W. Williams have the shipping addresses for the merchandise, but it would be difficult to move this sort of volume of merchandise on a black market. Perhaps the perpetrator just wanted to defraud the companies without benefiting itself in a financial way?