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OFT stops domain-name scam

A Swansea firm has been warned about its practice of telling companies that someone else was after a domain name that they might want

A company using "misleading" selling tactics to try and pressurise businesses into buying Internet domain names has been forced to cease the practice after an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading.

The OFT received complaints that Swansea-based Internet Registrations Bureau Limited, trading as Euro Web Designs, was contacting firms and claiming an unnamed third party was interested in registering a domain name similar to their business name.

IRBL helpfully offered to secure the domain name but told companies that they only had a limited period of time to do so before it would be offered to the third party.

The OFT asked IRBL to provide evidence that these third parties existed but the company was unable to do so. A written undertaking has been secured from the firm, and its directors Paul Dilling and Susan Ford, that they will not claim to have been contacted by these third parties when selling domain names when no such interest has been expressed to them.

John Vickers, OFT chairman, said in a statement: "We will continue to crack down on advertisers who make misleading claims about their services. Businesses should be wary of domain name registration companies cold calling and putting pressure on them to purchase names in haste."

Businesses are advised to contact their usual Internet service provider or domain name registration agent if they are in doubt about the reliability of any offer.