LOS ANGELES — The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection has proved victorious in its battle against a spoof website reportedly involved in fraudulent activities while misrepresenting itself as ASACP.
Earlier this year, reports emerged that the operators of the domain ASACP.co.uk — an entity unaffiliated with ASACP — were emailing adult website operators and hosting companies, claiming that illegal child pornography was found on their services.
The emails were signed by ASACP’s former CEO, while the ASACP.co.uk domain redirected to the association’s website, www.asacp.org, making the threatening letters seem official.
ASACP’s hosting company immediately placed a referrer block on ASACP.co.uk, redirecting all traffic from the bogus domain to a “forbidden” page, instead of to the ASACP website.
The association learned about the scam when it was contacted directly by a webmaster who had received one of the fraudulent emails.
“ASACP did not own ASACP.co.uk and never sends such emails to individuals or owners of suspected CP websites,” ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning said.
“We forward all confirmed reports of suspect CP directly to law enforcement and other international hotlines, rather than ‘tip-off’ criminal website operators.”
The association conducted a thorough investigation of the matter, which included identifying other websites hosted under the same IP address as the ASACP.co.uk domain.
This information was provided to the FBI through the Internet Crime Complaint Center, IC3.gov. An analysis of the fraudulent domain’s registrant information also revealed a surprise that may have ultimately worked against the scammers.
“The ASACP.co.uk domain name was bogusly registered under the name ‘Jane Harman,’ the U.S. Congressional leader who honored ASACP for its Restricted To Adults (RTA) website labeling initiative,” Henning said.
He added that ASACP provided the results of its investigation and the IC3 case number to her California and Washington staff to help in the investigation.
“As expected, the independent expert who was assigned by Nominet to decide our domain dispute has found that ASACP has a legitimate interest in the ASACP.co.uk domain name, and that the prior registrant does not,” said Marc John Randazza of the Randazza Legal Group, which handled the case for ASACP pro bono.
“As such, we are pleased to report that the domain name will be transferred to you. It was a privilege and an honor to assist ASACP,” Randazza added, noting that he will continue to monitor the domain transfer process.
“Thanks to the efforts of the Randazza Legal Group, a clear message has been sent to those seeking to damage ASACP’s good name,” Henning stated.
“With its European expansion well underway, it was vital for ASACP to end the confusion and fraud this scam was causing. Securing the ASACP.co.uk domain ends this attack and paves the way for ASACP’s increasing outreach in the U.K. and beyond. ASACP is very grateful for the assistance of those that donated their professional services. We wish to thank the Randazza Legal Group for their hard work with this case," Henning said.