Domain Corp and Domain Name Agency — the latter also trades as Domain Name Register — sent out about 300,000 unsolicited notices to businesses between November 2015 and April 2017, that resembled domain name renewal notices, according to a statement by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Friday.
But these were not renewals and instead were for registration of a new domain name at prices ranging from $249 to $275.
The two firms made false and misleading representations and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, the Court said. They received a total of about $2.3 million in response to these misleading notices.
“These sham operations target small businesses, capitalising on a lack of understanding of the domain name system or a busy office environment. We encourage businesses to be vigilant when paying invoices, especially if it is for a domain name registration service.”
The sole director of both companies, Steven Bell aka Steven Jon Oehlers, was found to be knowingly concerned in, and a party to, the operation. He was disqualified from managing a company for five years and ordered to pay $8000 in costs to the ACCC.
Additionally, orders against the companies (for five years) and against Bell (for three years) include a requirement that any further notices have to say: “This notice does not relate to the registration of your current domain name. This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money”.