Today I am very excited to announce a brand-new version of DomainTheft.org – the 100% human-verified Domain Theft Database and Recovery Service. The original idea for DomainTheft.org came to me in April of 2008 when I was starting to find more and more people emailing me for help recovering their stolen domains. Many had lost their domains either by having their email address compromised or selling a domain through Pay Pal only to find the payment returned to the buyer after the transfer had completed. I felt pretty helpless, there really was nothing I could do. I didn’t know any registrars, had no contacts in law enforcement, and didn’t know anyone at the popular domain marketplaces where some of these stolen domains were being moved, quickly, at rock-bottom prices.
So I decided to create DomainTheft.org as a resource for people to report stolen domains that we could then manually verify and list in our database. What I found is that a lot of people reported thefts, in fact over 1,000 stolen domains were reported, and given the amount of time it takes to properly verify a theft, the job turned-out to be more than my team and I could handle. We had to let DomainTheft.org sit dormant. Still, I knew there had to be a better way to do this and really make an impact in the space.
In February of this year we set-out to create an algorithm that could check domains to see when the last WHOIS change took place, and verify a few other common conditions that occurred when a domain was stolen. For those familiar with DomainTools this is one of the most popular features they offer and we are currently using their new API as a core part of our system. This was really what sucked-up our time in the initial verification process, checking if someone who reported a stolen domain had actually ever owned the name, or if they were just trying to sink their competitors. With that, the Domain Theft Verification System (or DVTS as we like to call it) was born and we finally had a way to get rid of all the spam theft reports and focus on the real thefts.
I know that the only way to properly investigate these thefts is by hand with real people following a set verification procedure. Once the Domain Theft Verification System makes sure that the person submitting the theft report did indeed own the domain during the time period that they specified it is then sent to a member of our task force. We follow-up with the person reporting the theft to obtain two forms of identification and absolutely ensure they are who they say they are. Then we follow-up with the alleged thief and reach-out to them to get their side of the story. This process takes time and I currently have three very motivated and dedicated people on our DomainTheft.org task force following-up each and every theft report manually to ensure whatever makes it into our database is 100% verified. No thefts are added to our database as Verified Stolen unless they are verified manually by a member of our task force.
Of course having a database is one thing, getting people and companies to use it is another. I am currently reaching-out to every single Domain Registrar and Marketplace I can think of to create a strategic partnership. We will allow any registrar and marketplace on the planet complete free access to our database. Of course we recommend that they only flag domains as stolen that have been Verified Stolen manually by a member of our staff and we are sharing our exact verification procedure with them. On top of that I am reaching-out to law enforcement agencies in all 50 states along with the FBI so that we know exactly who to reach-out to when working on domain name recovery. We have also decided to offer our recovery service at no fee. That’s right, there is no set fee for Domain Name Recovery, if you’d like to pay us you can but there is absolutely no obligation to do so!
Suppose you live in Idaho and your domain is registered with Go Daddy and stolen via a charge-back at Pay Pal. We will have strategic alliances with the local law enforcement in your city, Go Daddy, and the fraud team at Pay Pal so that you don’t have to fight the crime on your own. Forging these relationships is absolutely critical to our success and this is where a majority of my focus is going at the moment. We know that local law enforcement needs to be educated on domain theft and I am prepared to do this myself as part of our alliance.
No service of this kind has existed before. Instead the Domain Name space has remained relatively unregulated as it is often referred to as the “Wild West.” While there have been some good Samaritans in the industry, none have formed alliances with law enforcement in all 50 states, top registrars, marketplaces, and transactional providers like Pay Pal to create a cohesive solution. This is not some side-project that I’m giving the old college-try, this is a product, service, and solution that I am passionate about and I am confident will change the Domain Name space forever. Look out Domain Thieves, there’s a new sheriff in town, and we’re coming after you! Domain Owners, you can turn to us and we will help you in every way we can, while we can’t guarantee recovery we will do everything we can to leverage the relationships we have to get your domain name back and deliver the thief who stole your name to local law enforcement to prosecute them just like any other criminal.