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.