DEALING WITH 
THIEVES ON THE INTERNET
Copyright 2000 by 
jl scott, ph.d.

Dr. jl scott is the Director of the International Council of Online Professionals
(iCop) http://www.i-Cop.org - and also the publisher of
Monday Memo!

The thief's web host REFUSED to ban the stolen site. Even with undeniable evidence that the owner had both his domain name and his site up first! Even though the thief had been reported for "spam" by an outside source!

Sometimes I wonder if it's possible for ANY organization to even make a dent in cleaning up the Internet. So many scams - so many "business owners" who have no intention of treating their customers with anything other than contempt - so much BS ... And so much theft!

In the past month or so I have personally known three online business owners who have had their web sites stolen! Their ENTIRE web sites - good GRIEF!

The first question is - WHY? Any 10 year old can build a simple web site with an hour of training. It may not have forms, fancy graphics or cgi scripts but it can be functional - and it can work. If the learning curve is just too steep, how many sites to you think there are where you can find free templates? Lots!

There is no necessity for stealing someone else's web site! Neither design, nor content. Of course, if you're using the same 'ol hype on your site that everyone else is using - it's sometimes a bit difficult to tell who stole what from whom. Let that be lesson number 1!

Unfortunately, the theft itself is only the beginning of the problem. One victim was advised by several people to, "just leave it alone, let it go."

In a pig's EAR! For one thing - why do we bother to copyright our work if it isn't going to mean anything? For another - she could soon find her own products stolen right along with the site design.

If your site is stolen - you need to get that stolen site OFF the Web!

In one of the instances mentioned above, the product WAS actually stolen - right along with the entire web site - and was being sold by the thief. He even used the same credit card provider as the real owner!

In addition to all this, the thief then proceeded to market the product using "spam." Is this something you should just "leave alone?" I don't think so!

Yet, even with all this - the thief's web host REFUSED to ban the stolen site. Even with undeniable evidence that the owner had both his domain name and his site up first! Even though the thief had been reported for "spam" by an outside source! What do to next?

Start moving toward the Internet backbone. Even dedicated servers have to get their connections someplace. Go to http://www.novagate.com/resources/traceroute.html and find out the next step toward that backbone. Then report everyone under that connection who is refusing to do business in an ethical manner.

Each Internet Service Provider is accountable to the provider above them. Don't think a web host has carte blanche to do as they please! Moving toward the backbone is exactly what it took to get this web host back in line. The stolen site came down. 

At least it came down from THAT web host. The thief could have just put it back up with another hosting company. Not that it wouldn't be easy to find with the domain name in place. So, the job wasn't finished.

The merchant account provider also had to be put on notice. Think THAT  was easy? Of course, at first the victim was just blown off. Again - it took moving up through a hierarchy to get the job done.

Once the right person was informed that the merchant account provider could be held liable for assisting the sale of a stolen product - they paid attention! The thief's account was canceled.

Now granted, all this took a lot of work - a lot of energy - and a lot of stamina on the part of the victim. This victim is a Charter Member of iCop. When he became aware of what had happened - he wasn't sure how to proceed.

So - he asked for advice. More importantly, he followed the advice. And most important of all - he hung in there until the job was done!

Let it go? 

Well, I suppose you could. 

But how much are your web site - your products 
- and your reputation worth to you? 

jl scott, ph.d., Author
2000, All Rights Reserved
-----------------------------------------------------------------
dr. jl scott is the Director of the International Council of
Online Professionals (iCop) http://www.i-Cop.org - and also
the publisher of MONDAY MEMO! - the ezine dedicated to upgrading
Professionalism on the Web. For your FREE subscription:
mailto:Monday-Memo-on@MondayMemo.org

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