Man impersonates lawyer to take over domain names

A Las Vegas man has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud for impersonating an intellectual property lawyer and threatening to sue owners of certain Internet domain names.

David Dominic Scali, 28, will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on the charge in the coming weeks.

According to court documents, from June 26, 2006, to July 6, 2006, Scali used an alias to set up an e-mail account from which he sent e-mails to various domain name owners claiming to be an intellectual property lawyer. Scali threatened to file US$100,000 trademark infringement lawsuits against the owners of the Web site names unless they gave up their domain name registrations within two days.

In some of the e-mails, Scali, who sometimes used a name with the initials E.R., claimed to be an attorney affiliated with a law firm in New York. In other e-mails, he said he was a lawyer located in central California whose name began with the initials K.Y.C. and.

"These statements would reasonably influence the registered owners to part with the URLs and at lease one owner did, in fact, part with a URL that she rightfully owned," according to the court documents. "As part of the scheme, on or about June 29, 2006, defendant caused the interstate transmission by wire of one such fraudulent e-mail from Nevada to Colorado."

The wire fraud concerned a victim who surrendered a URL that was similar to www.citysearch.com. In his plea agreement, Scali admitted that he intended to obtain the domain names for his own personal financial gain.

The maximum statutory sentence for the wire fraud charge is 20 years in federal prison. However, prosecutors have recommended a sentence ranging from probation to six months in prison. The sentencing judge will make the final determination about Scali's sentence.

As part of the plea agreement, Scali will need the approval of his probation officer to use a computer, a handheld device, a cell phone or any other piece of equipment to access the Internet, or to access an Internet service provider.

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Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld
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