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Banking crisis: Cyber-squatters cash in

Date: September 18, 2008
Source: guardian.co.uk


It is not just hedge funds and short-sellers that are looking to cash-in on the global financial meltdown. Cyber-speculators have got in on the act too, snapping up online domain names in a game of guess the brand and the hope of selling their piece of internet property to the highest bidder.

Yesterday the rather long-winded domain name www.bankofamericamerrilllynch.com went up for sale on auction site eBay with an asking price of $1500 (832).

The seller appears to have registered on the auction site solely to do this deal, having bet that the merger of the two American investment banks earlier this week will eventually lead to a co-branded website. Already former employees of bust rival bank Lehman Brothers have put items such as branded water bottles and shoulder bags on eBay.

But it has not escaped the attention of cyber-squatters that Barclays has snapped up Lehman's American business and already www.barclayslehman.com has been bought and populated with adverts, including one which offers surfers a "free list of banks doomed to fail".

Lloyds TSB's swoop on HBOS, meanwhile, has already caused one enterprising cyber-squatter to register lloydstsbhbos.com, hboslloydstsb.com and lloydshbos.com.

"This shows the ever increasing value of cyber-real estate," according to Jonathan Robinson, chief executive of NetNames, which helps companies get themselves established and defend their position on the internet. "Events are unfolding so fast in the financial services sector that these companies have just not had the time to register these names."
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