Serial typosquatter agrees to pay $164,000 to FTC

A man who used more than 5,500 copycat domain names to divert surfers to his adult websites has agreed to pay $164,000 to settle charges brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A court previously ordered him to pay almost $2 million.

John Zuccarini is one of the web's best-known typosquatters. He was first charged by the FTC in 2001 after he registered misspellings of popular domain names or brands, including 15 variations of the popular children's cartoon site and 41 variations on the name of pop star Britney Spears.

Anyone trying to find the official Britney or Cartoon Network sites would typically land at one of Zuccarini's sites if they misspelled their intended destination. Once there, Zuccarini held them captive, according to the FTC, "while he pelted their screens with a barrage of adult-oriented ads".

In May 2002, a court permanently barred Zuccarini from his practices and ordered him to give up $1.8 million in ill-gotten gains. The court also ordered certain bookkeeping and record-keeping requirements to allow the FTC to monitor his compliance with the court's order.

The following year, Zuccarini faced criminal charges for the misleading use of domain names and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and 36 months of supervised release.

The latest FTC charges said that he was in contempt of the order requiring him to halt his practices. Under the new FTC order, Zuccarini must give up $164,000, conform to enhanced compliance and monitoring requirements, and transmit a copy of the new order to his probation officer.