O’Neill and Brown Plumbing creates website to out impersonator as online scammer

When this plumber found a website that mimicked his company, he came up with a genius idea to beat the hacker at his own game. Here’s what he did.

What do you do when scammers use your company information to create a fake website?

It’s a problem we see almost every day at IDCARE, Australia’s national cyber community support service.

Sometimes we hear from the owner of businesses being impersonated online. These owners are angry and frustrated that this is happening and they seem to do little to stop it.

But in June, we found a company that refused to give up.

Lesson One: Never Cross a Plumber!

The company is based in O’Neill and Brown Plumbing of Canberra.

The company’s owner was contacted in February by what we’ve come to recognize is a team of cybersecurity sleuths in the Northern Territory, working with the Government Consumer Affairs Bureau.

The team informed him that his company details were being used by scammers to set up a fake website for selling agricultural and construction equipment, Pantano Equipment.

Lesson Two: NT Super Sleuths keep watch; especially when it comes to agricultural machinery!

We got numerous messages about this scam, one person told how when he realized the site was fake and his tractor wouldn’t show up, he “absolutely broke” me.

So what do you do when your business is impersonated by criminals selling things that don’t exist?

The owner of the plumbing company spoke to his IT person and the IT person contacted the police for advice.

He came across a very helpful member of the Australian Federal Police who encouraged him to report the impersonating website to the domain host.

This is the company responsible for buying and selling website domains and their registration.

It’s a complex world where “registrants” and “registrars” meet “privacy hosts”.

They each have a role and all leave little “cyber bread crumbs” behind.

Some of these come to an abrupt end, but others offer an opportunity to expand the reach for complainants about their woes.

So the IT person wrote to the domain host of the website and had some success removing it, but then it would reappear, under a different similar name, and people were led to it by searching for farm equipment on Google and marketplaces.

Lesson 3: When it comes to cyber, you need to hone your whack-a-mole skills.

Then there was a stroke of genius. The company bought the Australian domain name www.pantanoequipment.com.au and the sole purpose of this site was to educate people about the scam.

It lists the various websites that the scammers use and urges people to report any activity to the police.

This move beats the scammers at their own game. In the words of our CEO here at IDCARE, Dr. David Lacey: “Sometimes you have to go down the gutter to catch a rat”.

The company’s employees have also written reviews on the fake site, stressing that their company details are impersonated and that the site is a scam.

Lesson 4: Cyber ​​scammers only win if you don’t know what the scam is. So beat them at their game!

While some people are still getting caught, the numbers affected by this fake website are decreasing.

Kathy Sundstrom is a former Sunshine Coast Daily journalist who now works at identity and cyber support service IDCARE.

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