The amazing adventures of Doug Hughes

Is This Domain Name Fraud?

On Monday I was looking for a new domain name for a friend of mine and I searched and found all main extensions were available; .com, .net, .org. So I told my friend and early on Tuesday we went to purchase the .com and .net versions. To our surprise the .com version had been registered the day before and in Whois it was shown as client parked and registered by the largest most expensive registrar on Monday. Everywhere else I tried it was shown as taken and in one case it had a flag saying “Make an Offer”.

So for curiosities sake I went to the largest most expensive registrar’s site and searched for .com version and hey-presto, it was available. My friend wanted the .com version so I went ahead and bought it. The cost was over twice that of the nearest competitor. Today, Crystaltech, whom I have a lot of respect for, emailed their clients pointing out that they suspected exactly what I suspected might be happening.

When someone searches for availability on a Domain Name it is being purchased/held directly after that search by a registrar and either being offered for sale or being made available by the largest most expensive registrar. If this is what is happening I don’t know if it is legally fraud but is is certainly very unethical. Hat’s off to Crystaltech for trying to protect and warn their clients.

Comments on: "Is This Domain Name Fraud?" (21)

  1. Tom Mollerus said:

    I think that such fraud is definitely happening. I don’t know if it’s who you referred to, but Network Solutions has recently been accused of this exact practice:


  2. Paul Marcotte said:

    Network Solution were on the WebbAlert as well.


  3. @Mike, where did you make your original search?


  4. Mike Brunt said:

    @dickbob My original search was at Dotster whom I have used for about the last 6 years as my registrar and this was the first I have found this to happen. Also that email from Crystattech went out very recently.


  5. Andy Matthews said:

    I think you’ll find that the domain name isn’t actually “registered”. It’s almost like they put it on hold or something. It shows as not available but when you perform a whois on the domain name you’ll see that there’s nothing there for it.

    Regardless, it’s highly unethical as it causes people to either have to change their branding, or pay more for the domain name through that registrar.

    I’d HEARTILY recommend avoiding the use of a whois lookup via a company that also does domain registration. Far better to use a free tool like


  6. Mike Brunt said:

    @Andy, thanks for your insight and yes I am sure you are correct that it was in some sort of holding pattern. I also did try various whois tools, thanks for the recommendation here though.


  7. I thought I had read something similar recently…–confirmed

    Can anyone recommend a “safe” place to check for .com/.net/.org and .uk domains all in one place?


  8. Dotster is squatting on a domain name that I accidentally let lapse just a few months ago. I can pay their “negotiating” partner (Sedo) $70 bucks to contact Dotster for me and negotiate a fair price for the domain.

    All because “Auto-renew” feature on dotster somehow didn’t get applied to that one domain name, when I went through and applied it to all of the others.


  9. Mike Brunt said:

    @Adam that sounds mildly unethical too, well not mildly. I wonder is there is a higher authority we can appeal to in these cases?


  10. Rachel Maxim said:

    Funny you mention this, I’ve always had this inexplicable paranoia about searching for domain names. It just seems too easy that the registrar could capture searches and buy out ones that aren’t bought right away, then resell it at a higher price.

    If I find a good domain name I need/like, I whip out the credit card right away…I guess I’m falling for the ploy! Rather disturbing to hear that some registrars are actually practicing this.

    To play devil’s advocate though…with “good” domain names becoming so scarce, I wonder how long they can all start at the same price. Counting the number of searches for a domain’s availability is a solid way to ratchet up the price. Supply and demand…


  11. Mike Brunt said:

    @Rachel, it looks like your fears-feelings were well placed. We have all felt that the Internet had been spared from the Robber Baron mentality and in many ways it has, which is remarkable, as it is so very and immensely important. Thanks for taking the time to add this comment.


  12. Andy Matthews said:


    That’s exactly why you should never use a registrar’s whois to do your searching. WHy trust someone who has a built-in motivation to capture your searches.

    Use a 3rd party for whois lookups and you’ll never worry about it again.


  13. Rachel Maxim said:

    @Andy, you’re so right…lesson learned!


  14. Yes Network solutions is doing this. I had two GREAT names and when I tried to register them elsewhere, Network solutions had them registered. Although they are available on Network Soltutions, their prices are too high. THEY HAVE A MONOPOLY going on.

    Their site should give a WARNING: If you use our site to search for a domain name, we will lock you from buying the name elsewhere.

    Also, should the web have more oversight from such abuses? I still have a domain name that I’ve been trying to get from network solutions for YEARS but they refuse to let me take it elsewhere. Their excuse/reason: Because I moved and no longer have the admin email; YET THEY TAKE MY MONEY AND RENEW THE DOMAIN NAME YEARLY using another email addresses, etc? They are SCUM and have NO ETHICS. They must have some very powerful FRIENDS on Internet boards and in politics because they are getting away with online MURDER!!!!!!


  15. Network solutions is scum. I searched for a great name but then they LOCKED me out of buying it elsewhere (their site has no such WARNING).

    Also, I have another name that Network Solutions REFUSES to let me take to another domain name registrar. They’ve used the excuse that my old contact email isn’t valid anymore, YET YEAR after year they take my payments for the domain name. (NOTE: I’ve sent them proof of my change of address, ID, etc, but they refuse to let me switch).

    They have very powerful friends in politics and online otherwise this couldn’t happen. We are sitting ducks, and Network Solutions should have a class action law suit.


  16. Mike Brunt said:

    @Jay thanks for letting us know your experiences with Netsol. Even though I have used Dotster happily for many years I was also uncomfortable that their partner showed a link for me to “Make an offer” for the domain.

    I should say which domain it is btw it is


  17. ernest ryder said:

    my name is ernest ryder have had 2 businesses-Ryder Technology and Ryder Global for 35 years- I am military sub-contractor and contractor-process engineering-I designed the system for fiber expansion-dupont kevlar and nomex,also dupont-continious grinding(in vertical pulverizer-rotormill) and compounding for military and hospital rubber gloves, many other things.also i have heating and refrigeration business.
    My domain name Ryder Technology was stolen while re-registering with microsoft! while i was on the phone with microsoft live technician!!!we both checked said I was original owner and no one had registered, all the sudden in 5 minutes domain says is registered for next month we laughed about it,microsoft guy says must be guy who doesnt know its still march.then all the sudden says was registered the month before me,but showes no registrant!!! then microsoft and I email them that my first in use website with microsoft was in year before which wasnt true,first website-1989.they then say my domain name was registered 2 months before that. then i lay the big egg on them, first websites were in 1985 or 1986 thru netscape and verizon, now they were all screwed had stolen my business names and then said had them which was a lie,capitaldomains was original hijacker i think used inside tracking ware and click ware I found in my computer,because my computer went mad when i went to re-register at,found a looping tracking and spyware associated with casalemedia-programmer(russian guy),dotster and,,opera ,
    sedo and several others all were sent warning emails to return my business name. my presario crached that night but my son microsoft trained tech was able to save on hard drive and on paper,all the spyware and tracking ware,they had hacked my computer.Checking my Gateway was big surprise,over 100 tracking cookies and spyware from registers were in there, then mc affee,icann and iana trying to infect my computer with tracking ware again and trying to link direct to my computer.I can give fuller details if you give me editors email address.

    thank you for posting,
    ernest ryder


  18. ernest ryder said:

    Most of the domain tasting is automatic programs i think from the spyware trackingware that was in my computer. but also several people inside icann and iana are being paid to help these registers and domain hijackers and front runners with breaking codes and information, which was proved when they linked with my computer,but were caught by my mc affee anti-virus program.

    customers need the 5 day period to straighten out domain names ,


  19. ICANN/InterNIC has a complaint/dispute form at which you can use to report problems with your registrar.

    I can verify that the complaint/dispute form doesn’t store any cookies on my computer, and using Firefox/Linux, it doesn’t attempt to install any software on my computer.

    Unfortunately, ICANN doesn’t actually control the .COM domain anymore, having transfered that responsibility to another company (Verizon IIRC) several years ago. Regardless, ICANN isn’t responsible for the behaviour of .COM registrars, though I suspect they could put pressure on registars who wanted to continue to register domains in the .net, .org, .edu, .info, etc… namespaces.


  20. ernest ryder said:

    To: Mike
    From:Ryder Technology-
    yes fraud was commited by dotster, and capitaldomains and wanfuchina -stealing a company and personal name doing business with the federal government,they were emailed many times but refused to release my business name,it was no mistake when a raspy voiced and the other guy called me saying they could fix, but needed some resources-(IE ransome money).also hacking and crashing my presario computer was state and federal crime. trying to infect my computer with tracking and spyware was a state and federal crime crime.
    Icann said their hands were tied
    But I did file case with FBI,but nothing heard back yet still waiting. will email them again this week, want to get the hard drives and hard copies to them.
    thank you for posting,
    ernest ryder

    P.S.-if you know any good lawyers that will take the case on contigency let me know.this is easy case as i copied everything criminals were doing as they perpetrated the crime


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