Bust An Illegal Local Website Using Basic Internet Skills
Posted on : 02-09-2008 at 0144 hrs
Author : Rif Chia
Are you using your life skills for a good cause? That was what i did 2 days back when i received a suspicious email in my business email account. This post is based on facts and evidences that i have discovered while researching on the source of the suspicious email and hoepfully this can be served as a clear warning to those who plan on starting an illegal website in Singapore.
Like any other days, it is very common for that special email account to be receiving spam emails because it was frequently used to register for free products/ebooks offered by "Internet GURUs". --> Okay i have made my point, never register your true email address with so called "Internet Gurus", often or not your email address is sold for their profits.
This suspicous email appears to be like any other spam emails that managed to get their way through my spam filter and landed into my inbox, however something was different about its domain name that caught my attention and raises a few doubts in my mind.
1) The email was sent from an educational domain name.
2) Title states "We are helping Americans become happy and healthy day by day." (I am a Singaporean)
3) A domain name was identified in the simple email which OMG it belongs to a .SG domain.
Being so curious, i lifted my ban on clicking suspicious links in emails and went ahead into the website. Upon loading, the homepage shows a variety of DRUGS and its pricing with a shopping cart at its top right corner. Any smart human beings will know upon the first look that this website is an online drug store, however not many know that it is illegal to sell drugs online in Singapore. (For my foreign readers who are unsure, laws in Singapore are stringent!) This website triggers my memory about the recent local online drug case that happened on June 2008 where two people nearly died after purchasing and consuming drugs they bought online.
WHois is a common technique internet consultants used in checking the technical and administrative details of a website. With that tool in hand, i whois the website and discovered that it was registered by a business. (Domain names ending with a .com.sg or .sg must be registered by a company or personnel who is able to provide a registered business address, as stated at SGNIC.) Doing my regular checks at EBizFile, the registered business is actually a registered business name in Singapore, i prefer not to state its business name until investigation is over.
The whois data also reveals that the website was registered in 16-08-2008 which is even less than a month old. With these data on hand, i did a site search in Google as well as Alexa. Guess what? This particular website has been spamming the internet and gaining popularity in just 14 days which means more and more people are likely to purchase drugs from them and who knows, something bad might just happen again.
Armed with a phone, i decided to make a call to HSA to report this case and put an end to this illegal website. During the conversation with the officer, i learnt the truth that if this website is registered in other domain TLD such as .com, then it will be much more difficult to investigate. It has been 2 days since my call to HSA and i did some whois checks recently. I noticed that the business name has been withdrawn from the whois data and it has now been replaced by a person name. Well, let's sit back and monitor the situation. i will definitely post updates on this case within this week or so.