Porn 'Typosquatter' Gets $164K Fine

Porn 'Typosquatter' Gets $164K Fine
Tod Hunter
WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission has fined a "typosquatter" who served adult advertisements on misspelled domains such as BobtheBiulder.com and Teltubbies.com a second time — this time for advertising mainstream products instead of adult.

John Zuccarini has agreed to give up $164,000 in revenue from typosquatting, registering domains that are misspellings of legitimate brands, he is alleged to have received, the FTC said Tuesday.

In 2002, a federal court barred Zuccarini from typosquatting, but he ignored the order, according to Carolyn Hann, a staff attorney with the FTC.

"He was engaging in practices that violated certain provisions of the order," Hann said.

After his 2002 settlement, Zuccarini pled guilty in 2003 to typosquatting and child pornography charges brought by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. After being released from prison in late 2005, Hann said, he resumed the domain name registration scam. This time, however, his hundreds of websites advertised mainstream products through affiliate marketing programs.

Although Zuccarini forfeited $164,000 in his recent settlement, in the 2003 criminal complaint the U.S. Justice Department said that he had been making as much as $1 million per year from his adult-oriented activities.

In agreeing to the recent settlement, Zuccarini admitted to no wrongdoing, the FTC said.

Typosquatting has been illegal in the U.S. for about 10 years, but the government has been largely unable to crack down on the practice because typosquatters often operate outside of U.S. jurisdiction, according to Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer with MarkMonitor Inc., an Internet brand monitoring service.

"I'm actually surprised that they caught him," Felman said of Zuccarini. "Most of the savvy guys have elaborate shell games in front of what they're doing. He must not be a very smart criminal."