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Domain Name Thief Pleads Guilty

Published December 14, 2010

In the USA, a New Jersey man has pleaded guilty to stealing a domain name and selling it via eBay for over USD $110,000. The incident is a reminder to all registrants to ensure their account access details are secured and the status of their names checked regularly.

Under a plea agreement, The Division of Criminal Justice will recommend that the man be sentenced to five years in state prison and to pay restitution. 

The offender was arrested on July 30, 2009 by members of the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit after a search warrant executed at the man's residence found business and computer records relevant to the domain name theft.

The domain name involved,, was sought after given its short length and relation to the Peer to Peer file sharing phenomenon. The name had an estimated value of between USD$160,000 and $200,000 at the time of its theft.

The associated domain account revealed that the name had been transferred without the knowledge or consent of the owners, almost a year before the issue became apparent.

The offender admitted that in May 2006, he illegally accessed the domain account belonging to, LLC and initiated a transfer of the domain name to his personal account with the same registrar.

Attempts were then made shortly afterward to transfer the domain name away from the registrar to a different company, but ICANN rules prohibited the transfer for 60 days. The offender was successful in transferring the name to another registrar 9 days after the non-transfer period.

After the additional mandatory 60 days, the offender listed the name for sale on eBay, where it was purchased for $111,211 to a professional basketball player who unaware that the domain name was stolen.

As businesses increasingly turn to the online world, some could lose thousands, even millions of dollars a day should their domain name become compromised. Pick up some domain name security tips.


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