Scammers are buying up cheap domain names to host sites that sell dodgy health products

Man reading news on tablet
(Image credit: Kaboompics / Pexels)

Security experts have warned that web domains are being bought up by scammers to host fake articles and other spurious content. 

A blog post from Netcraft, a UK company specializing in tackling cybercrime, has flagged how it has seen a surge in "health product campaigns that exploit cheap top-level domains (TLDs), reaching up to 60% of a TLD’s daily domain registrations."

These often host fake news articles that spoof popular media outlets, and include fake celebrity endorsements. The New York Times, Fox News, The Today Show, and the Daily Mail are a few examples of brands that have been impersonated.

Cheap domains

These articles often contain links to the products they are promoting, and while some of these products and links may be legal, the claims made pertaining to their effects are often exaggerated or misleading. The scammers make money through these affiliate links. 

Netcraft also alludes to a similar warning from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which alerted consumers to fake campaigns that made use of celebrities featured in the popular TV show Shark Tank.

These scams often gain exposure via social media, especially Facebook, as user accounts are compromised to post images and links to the fake domains en masse, tagging friends in the user's account to reach as many people as possible.

The proliferation of cheap domain names has made it easier than ever for cybercriminals to set up fake websites, according to Netcraft, letting them spread their campaigns across many domains. 

"This makes it harder to perform countermeasures against cyber-attacks, as the campaign can be spread across more infrastructure," the firm notes.

One such popular cheap domain name with scammers is ".sbs". Netcraft observed a spike in these domains in the summer of last year, with close to 7,000 distinct IP addresses hosting health-related scams in July. ".cloud" is another TLD that has spiked in the number of health scams it hosts.


Lewis Maddison
Staff Writer

Lewis Maddison is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro. His area of expertise is online security and protection, which includes tools and software such as password managers. 

His coverage also focuses on the usage habits of technology in both personal and professional settings - particularly its relation to social and cultural issues - and revels in uncovering stories that might not otherwise see the light of day.

He has a BA in Philosophy from the University of London, with a year spent studying abroad in the sunny climes of Malta.