November 18, 2021
The holiday season is upon us, and along with the increase in online shopping comes an increase in online scammers.
At Renzulli Law Firm, we have been tracking an increase in the number of scam sites which use the name of a legitimate company in the domain name in order to attract unsuspecting customers and steal their financial information. These scam sites have some telltale signs:
- The sites cannot be accessed from a network with a robust firewall or other network protections (they are often built fast and cheap and lack common security measures);
- The sites copy the intellectual property (trademarks or copyrights) of legitimate companies;
- The sites feature a disorganized collection of products often with incongruous prices (a common tactic right now is to advertise ammunition at prices FAR below the current inflated market value);
- The sites only take payments via wire transfer or digital currency;
- The sites do not mention FFLs and “allow” the online purchase of a firearm to be shipped directly to the customer instead of to an FFL holder; and
- The identity of the website owner is hidden, either with fake contact information or more sophisticated measures, such as hiring “privacy contractors” to scrub their identity from online databases.
A customer who gets taken in by these scams (some of which can be very convincing and copy the appearance of a legitimate online storefront perfectly) will pay for a product that never arrives, and has potentially put personal and financial information in the hands of criminals.
If your company’s good name has been hijacked by one of these scam sites, the damage to your reputation and goodwill can be astronomical. Even though your company is blameless, complaints across the Internet may soon associate your name with scams and dishonest practices.
The good news is that your company has tools to fight these scammers. The most effective is initiating a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) proceeding which, if successful, can transfer the scam site to your company for a fraction of the cost and time of litigation. In order to initiate a UDRP proceeding, the scam site must copy one of your registered trademarks in the domain name. This demonstrates just one more benefit of trademark registration when it comes to brand protection.
The team at Renzulli Law Firm has a history of success at developing and implementing flexible solutions tailored to the client and the specific issues raised by the scammers. If you have questions about how we can assist you and your company combat these online scams, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.