Apparently Fines And Jail Time Not Enough To Deter Infamous Disappearing Typosquatter From Typosquatting Again
from the cnat-saty-aawy dept
PC World has a story about how the FTC has fined John Zuccarini $164,000 for typosquatting domains that kids are likely to visit and sending them to hardcore porn sites. Before I saw the name of the guy in question, I had thought it was probably worth writing up a post asking what kind of idiot points children to porn sites? It hardly seems good for business — as the target audience isn’t quite right and it’s clearly likely to bring the feds down on you pretty quickly. However, once I realized it was John Zuccarini, it became even more worth posting, because we haven’t had a chance to write about Mr. Zuccarini in years (probably because he was in jail for a while). Since many of you may not recognize the name (or missed the various stories about him from way back when), it’s worth recapping.
Zuccarini’s first claim to fame came in early 2001 when the press picked up on the fact that he had built up a huge typosquatting empire to prey on people who mistyped a domain name. If you went to one of his domains, it would pop up ads that would take over your screen that would be nearly impossible to close. However, what was much more interesting was that Zuccarini was a slippery sucker who was tough to find. After losing a few cases brought against him, he just started ignoring all lawsuits and judgments against him and basically went into hiding (while still making tons of money). In the rare instances where he showed up in court, he refused to give anyone a way to find him again. The transcript of him answering questions in court about where he lives is quite amusing:
Question: What is your current address?
Zuccarini: 957 Bristol Pike, Apartment D-6, Andalusia, Pennsylvania, 19020.
Q: Is that where you currently reside?
Zuccarini: Not necessarily.
Q: Where do you currently reside?
Zuccarini: I don’t have – that’s my legal address. I really don’t have a permanent address at this time.
Q: Where do you currently reside?
Zuccarini: Right now, I am staying at the Millennium Hotel in New York.
Q: When you are not in New York for a deposition, where do you live? Where have you lived in the past two weeks?
Zuccarini: I have been living in various places.
Q. What are the various places that you have been living?
Zuccarini: Friends’ places. You know, that type of thing. Different hotels.
Q. 957 Bristol Pike is not your residence?
Zuccarini: No, it’s not. It’s my legal address. I have a lease on the apartment and that’s where I have – some things are sent there which I get.
Q: Do you live in Pennsylvania?
Zuccarini: I don’t know. I don’t have a permanent address so I can live anywhere. I don’t live anywhere right now. I can’t give you a permanent address.
Soon afterwards, he basically disappeared completely. The FTC ordered that his website all be shut down, though it’s unclear if that ever happened. Not long after that, the FTC fined him about $2 million for typosquatting. It took until late 2003 until Zuccarini was finally tracked down and arrested for pointing kids to porn, leading to a quick guilty plea and three year jail sentence. Do the math and you realize he’s back out again… and apparently went right back to his old tricks: typosquatting and pointing kids at porn sites. You would think he would have learned his lesson, but apparently not. To hear that the new fine is only for $164,000 seems a bit surprising. Given the earlier fines, conviction and jailtime, you would think that something more stringent might make sense. In the meantime, there’s no word on whether or not Zuccarini even plans to acknowledge the fine. Given his past behavior, you might not want to bet on it.