A company called Central Web Pages Register (CWP) (www.c-w-p.co.uk) has apparently been circulating a letter to all .uk registrants demanding they pay a renewal fee of £225 or face being disconnected.
Icann-approved Internet domain registrar Internetters today warned that companies receiving the letter should ignore it.
The letter says that once a company pays CWP it will be entitled to display its details on CWP's website. But this is at least an unnecessary deal, after all, it's "£225 to display your site name and contact details on a company's website you've never heard of," says Kevin Sorrie, head of Internetters.
Nominate (www.nominate.net), an Icann-approved domain registrar, says a domain name can only be terminated by the company which set it up.
PC Advisor contacted five firms listed on CWP's website but none of them had allowed their names to be used.
"We received this letter and contacted our domain registrar Demon immediately," said Ron Dunbar for IT company Directional Data Systems. "Demon immediately confirmed we were paid up and to ignore the letter. We have not given permission for our details to be put on the website and indeed we certainly did not take [CWP] up on its offer."
If CWP is proved to be displaying company details, under the pretence that these companies have signed up to its services, when they have not, then this could be construed as fraud.
"If they are claming that [a listed] company is one of its customers, when indeed it is not, then it is an out right lie and could be grounds for fraud," said Mel Jennings, company law solicitor at law firm Crowder Associates.
Internetters has notified Trading Standards of CWP's letter.
"Obviously the problem is, [if this is a scam] people will be fraudulently conned out of money." said a Trading Standards Institute spokesman. "People need to be aware that these tricksters are operating."
"People should just ignore this letter," said Ken Sorrie, founder of Internetters. "They are warning all registrants that if they don't cough up, their domain name will be disconnected. This is simply untrue."
CWP is not registered with Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which means it is not an official domain name registrar. For domain names to be valid, an Icann approved registrar must register them, even if they were originally purchased from a separate reseller. Nor does CWP have the ability to terminate domain names.
A domain name can only be terminated by the company which set it up. That company can 'turn it off' but the domain will still not actually be terminated for several years, giving its previous owner the opportunity to reinstate it.
Unsurprisingly CWP's telephone lines are constantly engaged and its director is registered to a German address, which has so far proved impossible to contact.
If you receive a letter from CWP you should contact your local Trading Standards office, which you can find on the Trading Standards Institute's website, or Nominet (www.nic.uk) on 01865 332 211.