Two domain name registrars behind most rogue pharma sites, says study

Bahamas registrar pointed out as main culprit

Research done by LegitScript, a company that maintains a database with legitimate online pharmacies, suggests that two domain name registrars are responsible for more than half of all rogue pharmacy sites in the world.

The domains are used to sell "female Viagra" and drugs like Xanax and Vicodin without prescription. U.S.-based LegitScript said that about one in three rogue online pharmacies in its database is registered with Internbet.bs, a registrar that is located in the Bahamas.

LegitScript concluded that about 33 percent of pharma domains are hosted by Internet.bs and about 17 percent are registered with ABSystems, which makes the two registrars responsible for more than 50 percent of all rogue pharmaceutical domain names.What is especially noteworthy, according to LegitScript, is that it seems that the registrars have made registering domain names for questionable pharmacies one of their main business models. According to the report (PDF), Internet.bs has 0.12 percent of the global domain name market share, and ABSystems has 0.001 percent. A third registrar, Ukrainian Names, with a market share of 0.017 percent is responsible for 4.8 percent of rogue pharma domains.What's more, LegitScript said, Internet.bs actively helps businesses that thrive on questionable online drug sales to protect their sites against international law enforcement initiatives aimed at stopping counterfeit drugs. To prove that, LegitScript posed as "Pay-Rx.biz", an organized cybercrime network, and said it wanted to register thousands of websites to sell drugs without prescriptions.  Eventually the made-up cybercrime network registered over 175 domain names with Internet.bs.LegitScript said it tried to notify Internet.bs that it was hosting hundreds of dubious online pharmacy sites, but got no response. That is why, LegitScript said, it resorted to registering rogue pharmacy domain names.Internet.bs said in a statement on its website that it suspended 176 illegal pharma domain names.

"Internet.bs Corp. is happy to announce that it just suspended 176 pharma domains explicitly setup by unscrupulous and pretend-to-be customers trying to fool regulators and circumvent applicable pharma regulations," reads the statement, pointing out that an unnamed registrant violated the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) policies by providing false Whois details.According to Internet.bs, the company was lured into a trap with the sole purpose to ruin its reputation. The company maintained that the other registered pharma domains are legal, and assured customers that their domain names would be safe. The company said it "respects all applicable laws and regulations and expects its customers and partners to do no different".LegitScript said selling questionable drugs through websites might be legal in the Bahamas. But, LegitScript said, Internet.bs ignored the fact that the websites being registered by Pay-Rx.biz would be operating illegally in the jurisdictions in which the fake company was supposed to be doing business.

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