Smyrl.Biz Web Consultants, Jacksonville / Midland, Texas

        Web Piracy, Scams, and Dastardly Deeds



Piracy or hijacking

Web piracy is rampant.  It can result from the unscrupulous using a grabber to grab your web and putting it up as your own or other methods listed below.  As a webmaster you must be ever vigilant of others stealing your web.  Copyscape can help you identify such problems.  Also running the command allinurl:www.yourdomain.com and see if a URL other than your own appears in the list. If so it is time to research further.  Click on the link and see where you go.  Ways of hijacking include:

  • Click tracking scrip
  • Redirected URL meta refresh scenario
  • Redirect using server side .htaccess
  • Hijacking using rel="no follow" in link
  • Capturing your content in a frame
  • Using your name or URL in their title
  • Hijacking on fly.  See *http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=31376&page=2

     

Once you realize someone is benefiting from your work and you know how the offender is functioning it is time to start combat procedures.

Some lines of defense include:

  • Contacting web master of offending site demanding they take down the site due to copyright infringement.
  • Contacting the host of the offending site and demand they take down the site due to copyright infringement.
  • Contacting Google via the link http://www.google.com/dmca.html on basis of copyright infringement.

There are special technical lines of defense based on hijacking method.

Domain Name Piracy:

NOTICE...  November 2004 ICANN Transfer Policy Email
We are sending customers an email regarding a new ICANN-enforced domain name transfer policy, effective 11-12-04. It dictates that IF WE RECEIVE A TRANSFER REQUEST (and your domain names are not locked) we must honor the transfer, even if you do not confirm it. You can eliminate ANY chance of your domain names being transferred away without your permission by locking your domains.

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Scams

A plethora of web scams abound.  Among those facing webmasters/ web owners are domain name scams and search engine optimization scams. 

Domain Name Scams

One scam being run is to contact a web owner and state their domain name is about to expire.  If owner wants to keep the domain name, send payment immediately.  The scam here is that contacting company is not the registrar of the domain name.   In case of one of my clients, the scamming registrar charged three times as much as legitimate registrar.  Remedy:  Contact scamming registrar and demand return of payment or go directly to Internet Fraud Complaint Center.  It took us three phone calls to scamming registrar, an e-mail to FCC and a couple of months to obtain return of funds.  Since first experience two more clients have been contacted by same scammer.  We always advise our clients to contact us regarding any web related payment.

Another deceptive practice in my eyes is to try to sell you a domain name you have never owned and do not want. See below for beginning of an e-mail I received trying to sell me a domain name I have never owned and do not want. 

Domain Update Center
130 Church Street Suite 280
New York, NY 10007
Phone: 1-800-270-5944 Email: support@domainupdates.us Web: www.domainupdates.us
ATT: SHANNON SMYRL
ADMINISTRATIVE CONTACT
Shannon Smyrl
smyrl@sprynet.com
501 W. Scharbauer Drive # 5
Midland, Texas 79705 USA
www.SSMYRL.us
Notice Tracking Number: 5175883

I never owned this domain name. Do not want it! 


Please be advised that the above noted domain name has now become available for registration.
Consequently the possibility of conflicting domain registration may occur.  Many never catch the implication here.  I own SSmyrl.com. When I first glanced I thought they were trying to get me to switch registrars, then I noted the dot US extension.

....

E-mail goes on.

Domain Buying Scams

  • Forcing an appraisal by their appraisal company at your expense before they buy.  Of course you never hear from them after appraisalFake buyers are requesting traffic tests and using the domains to spam.
  • Traffic test scam to obtain access to your web.  Once given access they spam using your site.
  • Fake escrow service scam.

SEO Scams

Many SEO scams abound as well.  Be extremely wary if contacted by a SEO company.  No company can guarantee you first position or first page placement.  Some word their contracts where they guarantee first position placement but if you read the fine print no where does it say they guarantee first page placement for specific keyword phrases you are seeking.

There are two type of SEO companies.  Those that employ "white hat" SEO techniques and those using "black hat" techniques.  There are currently who SEO companies making news.  One in England and one in the US.  Patrons of these two companies have been dropped from Google for using "black hat" techniques that violate Google's terms of service.

This week I was contacted by a SEO company wanting to optimize my site.  When I looked at their web they had no pagerank, no backlinks.  If they have not managed to get themselves ranked why would I want them to optimize my site.

One scam is to sell you a link from a site that does not have the pagerank it purports to have.  By all means do your research and use this checker or another similar one to check before buying such a link.  I do not favor buying links anyway but if you do purchase you want to get that for which you pay.

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Listing Scams

I just received a letter from LISTINGCORP.COM showing a domain name, reference number, and notice date .  This appears to be a bill for a service I did not order and do not want.  It attempts to get recipient to remit $50 to

Listing Corp
1357 Broadway Suite #103
New York, NY 10018

Add/Drop Scheme

Be careful when you search for a domain name.  If you search with the wrong registrar, and decide to look for other domains or think it over, you may go back a short time later and find domain has been snapped up by the registrar.  Read more about the add/drop scheme.

Spamming

Webmaster beware if you have a guestbook, forum, or blog.  Serf by spammers abound.  Much of the software used for guestbooks, forums, and blogs was not written with safeguards built in to easily protect your site from such spamming.  Once a spammer starts using your guestbook/forum/blog they tend to come back and spam repeatedly. 

I just found the following referrer in my log http://www.mydomain.com/bb/profile.php?mode=register&agreed=true.   I am not running a bulletin board.  It appears that a spammer was attempting to register and spam my non-existant bulletin board.  Were I to run one I would immediately change my folder name from bb to something else.  It could still be found but these automatic probs might move on rather to go to the trouble to find. 

The big three Google, Yahoo, and MSN are fighting back with this type of spamming by introducing the rel="nofollow" attribute for links.  The code  is <a href="http://www.whateverdomain.com" rel="nofollow">.  This in itself is opening up a can of worms in regard to link exchanges.  Watch your link partners for its use.

A few half hearted preventative measures to prevent spam include disallowing forums, guestbooks, and blogs from being indexed by using robots.txt exclusion.  Another remedy for a forum is to password protect the forum.  If available you can require posters have a minimum number of posts before they may have a signature file or post an active link online.  Setting up forum so you receive e-mail notification of each registrant in order to enable registrant to have posting rights.

Be advised if you implement a forum or guestbook it will involve a significant investment in time to monitor it for spam.

The latest spamming siege is referrer stat spamming. Spammers spam your site to show up in your stats in hopes you will click on their links or give them a link if you publish your referrer list. Due to proxy servers blocking the IPs of the offenders is weak at best.  A better way  if running Apache is to redo .htaccesss.  Some methods are discussed on  DigitalPoint Forum, and on this blog.  At them moment I am using an approach involving a combination of the ideas expressed on these sites.  Remember when ordering your Rewrite rules put your more restrictive rules first.

Porn and casino sites are among the biggest spammers but my latest spammers mostly have the give away info extension and are using page name like sitemap8.html.  Be on the lookout for such spammers.

You may also want to view *http://cavlec.yarinareth.net/archives/2005/01/11/killing-referrer-spam*,  I had this on linked but site seems to have blocked my URL or IP.  At the moment do not remember what the reference had to add.

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Copy Scrapers

When monitoring, always monitor Internet infringement using copyscape.com.  One of my sites has this page  http://home.sprynet.com/~smyrl/cost.htm that has had content scraped.  Today, June 9, 2005, if you go to www.copyscape.com and put in the URL for the page given you will find a site that has copied text directly from my site. View content from the two sites.  As first line of defense of my content I have written both the offending site and ISP involved. 

To back up your claim be sure to make use of waybackmachine which can be used to show which site has older version of content.  In my case domain name for offending site was not registered until Oct. of 2004.

waybackmachine image

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