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9/7/2007
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Fraudster Pleads Guilty To Internet Domain Owner Shakedown

A Las Vegas man pled guilty to threatening lawsuits against the owners of Internet domain names in a scheme to gain control of them.

A Las Vegas man pled guilty in federal court to impersonating an intellectual property lawyer and threatening lawsuits against the owners of Internet domain names in a scheme to gain control of them.

David Dominic Scali, 28, agreed to plead guilty to a wire fraud charge in a deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office. The plea was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The wire fraud charge carries a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. While a judge will make the sentencing decision, under the plea deal, prosecutors only will ask for a range of probation to six months in custody.

The Department of Justice said in a statement that Scali registered an e-mail account with netzero.net under an alias and then sent out e-mails between June and July of last year, claiming he was an intellectual property lawyer -- sometimes saying he was a California attorney and sometimes saying he was affiliated with a New York law firm. In the e-mails, he threatened to file $100,000 trademark infringement lawsuits against the owners of various Internet Web site names unless they transferred their domain name registrations to him within two days.

The wire fraud charge Scali pled guilty to is in connection to an incident where one of his victims turned over a domain name similar to www.citysearch.com. He admitted during his plea deal that he was trying to obtain the domain name registrations for his own financial gain. He could cash in by posting ads on the fraudulently obtained Web sites for anyone who erroneously landed there after mistyping the name of the site they were trying to get to.

The case was investigated by the FBI.

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