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How a Whois check could have halted a scam

Victims failed to notice the registration date of the domain name used to initiate the scam.

Whois record of WendiMurdoch.com showing creation date
Note the recent creation date on this domain used in a scam.

A Wendi Deng Murdoch imposter tricked photographers into paying for flights to and photography permits in Indonesia, and a more thorough Whois lookup could have saved the victims from losing money and time.

CNN reports about the scam that duped photographers Henry Wu and Carley Rudd. I must say, it’s much more elaborate than most scams that land in your inbox. It was well-researched and thought out.

The photographers were tricked into flying to Indonesia and buying photography permits for a gig. They later found out it was a scam and pointed out that they overlooked something obvious. The emails they received were from the domain wendimurdoch.com. That led credibility to the scam, but it turns out the domain was registered only recently:

Wu told CNN, “we overlooked the red flags. I did a DNS (search) on the (wendimurdoch.com) domain, overlooked that it had been registered a couple of weeks previously.”

(Hat tip: Name Ninja)

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Reader Interactions


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  1. mansour says

    Hello Andrew,
    I appreciate your effort to get some registrars to rethink their position regarding the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Put in mind that each and every registrar has their own motivation as to which direction and what position they should take. For example, GoDaddy relies on many customers who have large portfolios of domain names, and most of those registrants are engaged in selling and buying domain names. They can also host domain names if the registrant wants their domain name to be hosted. This led them to not implement the GDPR, except for the European registrants in order to comply with the court order keep their happy.

    On another hand, Tucows, customers are hosting companies with few domain names. Implementing the GDPR will help the hosting companies and Tucows from losing domain names to other registrars through transfer since they cannot reach the owners, so it is for their best interest to implement GDPR everywhere. Unless and until ICANN takes a position as to what their registrars should or should not do regarding this issue, and the right to any domain owners to opt in of GDPR if they choose nothing would really happen. What I mean is – save your breath.

    • Rubens Kuhl says

      GDPR or not, the creation date of domain is not personal information… that’s why Andrew haven’t mentioned GDPR, because it has nothing to do with this.

      • mansour says

        I know he did not! I though he wanted to, but it was unrelated and unimportant so I added my comment to make it interesting.
        thanks for reading my comment and taking the time. And sorry if it was a waste.

  2. JBlack says

    Examining the registration date is often key to discerning scams. Similarly, the FBI could easily have gleaned deceitful intent behind the Clinton email scandal if they chose to examine the date the Clintonemail.com was registered, the domain used for her private email server. That domain was registered Jan 13 2009, the very same day hearings began for her nomination (she wasn’t even confirmed by the Senate until Jan 21 2009). The domain’s very early registration date clearly shows Hillary intended to circumvent government email accountability from the very start of her tenure.

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