Thursday, December 11, 2003

Associated Press and Canadian Press

Man pleads guilty in Web naming scheme

NEW YORK — A Florida man pleaded guilty Wednesday to registering misleading domain names on the Internet to direct children looking for popular sites such as Disneyland to pornography instead.

John Zuccarini, 56, will get roughly three years in prison when he is sentenced by a federal judge Feb. 20.

He was accused of registering thousands of sites with addresses that slightly misspelled the names of real sites, including those for pop star Britney Spears, cartoon character Bob the Builder and the Teletubbies.

The misspelled names led Internet surfers to advertising sites that paid Mr. Zuccarini for each user who viewed them. The government said he made up to $1-million (U.S.) a year from the scheme — much of it from sex sites.

Prosecutors said the charges and plea were the first brought under a provision of the seven-month-old U.S. federal Amber Alert law, which makes it a crime to use a misleading Web address to draw children to pornography.

Mr. Zuccarini was arrested in September at a Florida motel room.

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