Cybersquatters are using Debevoise's name to steal personal information, suit alleges
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Updated: Debevoise & Plimpton has claimed in a lawsuit that cybersquatters are using its name in an attempt to profit from ads and seek sensitive information in phishing schemes.
The federal lawsuit, filed Dec. 13 in Virginia, asks a court to transfer to Debevoise two domain names used by the cybersquatters. They are debevoise-law.com and debevoise-laws.com.
The two websites are named as defendants in the suit alleging trademark violations. Debevoise said it asked domain registrar Namecheap Inc. to take down the websites, but the company did not respond. Debevoise can’t determine the websites’ owners because they are protected by a privacy service in Reykjavik, Iceland.
One of the phishing domains, debevoise-law.com, redirects visitors to Debevoise’s legitimate website to trick email recipients into thinking that the domain is operated by the law firm. The emails purport to be sent by actual Debevoise lawyers, such as mergers and acquisitions partner Christopher Anthony, and seek “sensitive information or funds,” the suit said.
The suit includes a copy of a fake email meant to be from Anthony. It informs the recipient that he is the contact for Debevoise in the acquisition of assets of an Asian-based company. The email asks the recipient to complete and return a document, “so that I can share more details with you concerning this new Acquisition deal.”
The other fake domain has pay-per-click ads for legal services, which is an improper attempt to profit off Debevoise’s name and goodwill, the suit said.
“Debevoise does not tolerate this type of criminal activity,” the law firm said in a statement. “We plan to move swiftly for a preliminary injunction to capture these domain names and put an end to this scheme.”
U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia granted a preliminary injunction Dec. 16 that transferred the two domain names to Debevoise’s possession and control.
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Updated Dec. 15 at 1:15 p.m. to add the statement from Debevoise & Plimpton. Updated Dec. 16 at 4:30 p.m. to add news of the preliminary injunction.