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Typosquatter Aided By Web Host

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Dec 16, 2003 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 
NETHERLANDS – U.S. Federal Agents revealed Tuesday that convicted child predator John Zuccarini, a Florida typosquatter who was found guilty last week of registering thousands of misleading domain names with intent to misdirect children to hardcore adult sites, had been aided by a Dutch web host.

As reported by the U.K's Register, PGW Internet Solutions hosted many of Zuccarini's sites on a group of dedicated servers through its subsidiary XXXextreme.nl.

Zuccarini re-registered many of his domain sites in the Netherlands with PGW around the time federal agents began investigating him in 2001 for unfair and deceptive business practices that violated federal law.

Already known as one of the world's most famous cybersquatters, Zuccarini was sued twice two years ago under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. At the time, he was ordered by two federal courts to pay statutory damages totaling $550,000 plus attorneys' fees and costs for registering hundreds of domain names that were misspellings of celebrity names, famous brands, company names, television shows, and movies.

At the peak of his operation, Zuccarini owned an estimated 5,000 Internet addresses, many of which, say prosecutors, were slightly misspelled URLS that might attract young children to sites containing adult sexual content.

Zuccarini was paid by porn sites for the traffic and reportedly grossed up to $1 million dollars last year in referral fees.

Zuccarini admitted in court at a previous hearing to having deliberately targeted children because he knew they were more apt to misspell web addresses than adults. He was convicted under the Amber Alert Law which makes it a crime to lure children to porn websites.

PGW's owner, a former adult porn provider, told federal agents that he was not aware that his company was sheltering a child predator because Zuccarini had private access to the dedicated servers. The owner told the Register that Zuccarini was his company's biggest client, but that once PGW discovered what Zuccarini was up to, they tried on numerous times to shut him down.

According to the Register, some of the sites hosted through PGW were adaptac.com, gorgewbush.com and Bobthebiulder.com, to name just a few.

Some of Zuccarini's domain names included 15 variations of children's cartoon site www.cartoonnetwork.com and 41 variations on the name Britney Spears. Internet surfers who typed in the misspelled URLs were directed to a porn site called Hanky Panky College, which was hosted by PGW.

In a report from the Federal Trade Commission, once the users were directed to Zuccarini's sites, they were often caught up in a "mousetrapping," scheme, which obstructs the users' ability to close their browser or go back to the previous page. Clicks on the "close" or "back" buttons cause new windows to open.

Among other charges, Zuccarini also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing 12 images of child pornography that were stored on his laptop, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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