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Domain Name Corp Fined $1.9M For Illegal Renewal Notices

The Federal Court has today penalised Domain Name Corp Pty Ltd and Domain Name Agency Pty Ltd nearly two million dollars combined, affirming the companies breached the ACL by sending out 300,000 unsolicited renewal notices.

The notices resembled a renewal invoice for existing domains, however, were registration notices for new domains ($249 – $275).

Announced by the ACCC, the Australian Federal Court penalised Domain’s companies a combined $1.95 million, for unsolicited notices sent between November 2015 and April 2017.

Domain’s notices were deemed false and misleading, with Aussie businesses forking out around $2.3 million as a result.

ACCC Acting Chair, Delia Rickard, affirms small businesses are targeted by such “sham operations”, capitalising on a “lack of understanding of the domain name system”.

“We encourage businesses to be vigilant when paying invoices, especially if it is for a domain name registration service,” Rickard asserts.

The Federal Court has declared sole director of both companies, Mr Steven Bell [aka Steven Jon Oehlers] was “knowingly concerned in, and a party to, the conduct”.

The court has imposed a three year injunction against each of the Domain companies, and a five injunction against Mr Bell.

Mr Bell has also been disqualified from managing a corporation for five years, and has been ordered to pay a fixed cost of $8,000 to the ACCC.

The injunctions require any future notices to include the following phrase:

“This notice does not relate to the registration of your current domain name. This is not a bill. You are not required to pay any money”.

Further information is available on the ACCC’s website here.


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