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Domain registry charged with fraud

Australian authorities file fraud charges against a site operator for allegedly duping people who intended to register domains at the InterNIC registry.

The Australian government filed fraud charges against the operator of "www.internic.com" for allegedly collecting up to $3 million from consumers worldwide who apparently mistook the site for the official domain name registry in the United States.

The Federal Trade Commission alerted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about the site in August.

Today, the FTC said the ACCC has taken action against the site's owner, Peter Zmijewski, for allegedly misleading about 12,000 consumers who paid between $220 and $250 to register names for the most popular domains, such as ".com."

Both agencies say the Aussie company, Internic Software, duped people who intended to register domains at the official InterNIC registry at "www.internic.net." According to the FTC, Internic Software acted as a "broker" for consumers and promised buyers that their domain names would be registered with the real InterNIC.

But the Virginia-based Network Solutions, which currently administers the InterNIC and charged $100 for the same two-year registration, told the FTC that most of the domains were never registered. Due to a federal court order, Network Solutions now only charges $70 for the service.

The FTC complained to the ACCC that Zmijewski's site didn't adequately disclose how its business worked, meaning many consumers paid more than they otherwise would have, Network Solutions says.

The ACCC is seeking a court order to shut down the site and to collect refunds for consumers.