Will NameJet support an independent third party investigation? I sure hope so…

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Unless you’ve literally been living on a rock, with no wifi, and your smartphone isn’t handy, then you know that shill bidding at NameJet has been a very hot topic in the domain industry. If you’re behind on what’s been happening, here’s the thread on NamePros that will get you all caught up.

Now I don’t have all the facts and as someone that has been a fan of NameJet for years I do think they are going to do the right thing here. The question is, what is the right thing?

Currently NameJet is doing their own internal investigation and they’ve been updating the community on their progress, here’s one of the latest responses courtesy of Elliot’s Blog:

“In an effort to keep everyone current as to where we stand on this matter, I wanted to share the following update. There have been some inaccuracies and misconceptions that have been brought forth by such a spirited discussion. And it would be a challenge to respond to all of them – therefore, I want to bring the discussion back to the heart of the matter.

As stated earlier, we take the issue of shill bidding on NameJet very seriously and we are conducting a thorough investigation, keeping in mind that the integrity of our platform is of utmost importance to us. As I have said repeatedly, we do not condone shill bidding of any kind. We would never encourage, promote or otherwise be involved in any such thing and our position is clear – it is never allowed on NameJet!

In our current investigation certain auction activity has come to light that we deem questionable and a possible violation of our terms. This kind of activity is not acceptable to us and we are taking steps to deal with it. We have suspended several accounts while working through the information we have available.

I thank everyone for their patience as we work through these issues. Our goal is to best serve our customers and we are working hard to that effect.” (Source – DomainInvesting.com)

Elliot has also been a proponent of having a third party investigate the issues here and to be honest, I think that really is the only path forward if they want to win back the trust of the domain name community. Like I said in a post earlier this week, I don’t think there are any situations where bidding on your own domains are okay, and action should be taken to ban accounts that do this.

Still at the core of this issue is trust, trust for a service that many of us have trusted for years. I hope, more than anything, that at the end of all of this it will actually make NameJet an even stronger and more trustworthy place to buy and sell domain names. But like I said above, to do this I think we need to move beyond an internal investigation and let a third party jump in to really dig into what is going on.

What do you think? Is an internal investigation enough or should a third party get involved? Comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Joseph Peterson July 22, 2017, 7:40 pm

    I wrote about this topic yesterday on your blog. It might be somewhat complicated.

    Reply
  • Nick July 22, 2017, 7:47 pm

    What will end up happening is what has happened in just about any industry…. self governance fails and GovCo steps in and installs regulations.

    At first these regulations are minor but just enough to put out the fires. Then the people find ways to beat the regulation. After years of that abuse, GovCo steps up regulations. Eventually it gets to a point where you cant build a bridge over a stream because some protected species requires years of “studies” by the EPA, “requirements” to no end by unions, and the simple bridge over the creek – which would have taken a month to build, takes 3 years and 100x the cost.

    In the domain industry we’re at the very beginning of total failure of self-governance . Expect the federal government to step in soon, perhaps even right now with this bidding garbage. Whether or not NJ “knew” or not doesnt matter. They built an auction platform and they had a fiduciary duty, with said auction platform and our money, to uphold…. Dont be shocked if the FBI has already been watching. Dont be shocked if this instantiates the first regulations into our wild-west industry.

    Reply
  • Mark Thorpe July 22, 2017, 11:48 pm

    I do not know how there cannot be a third party Investigation!? Web.com, Tucows and Rightside, all PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES. They all own/owned NameJet at one point or another.

    I do not see what is stopping a third party Investigation, other than NameJet maybe not wanting us to find out more bad stuff or the amount of money buyers actually lost and the amount of money that NameJet and sellers made.
    I also do not undestand why the sellers are not punished for what they did and NameJet owners/managers as well, for letting it happen!?

    None of it makes sense to me. Internal Investigation? Please, give me a break, that’s for privately held companies.

    Reply
  • George In Miami July 23, 2017, 1:35 pm

    NameJet is the only place to purchase domains..?
    Obviously, not.
    Then, why buyers don’t walk away from NameJet until
    the corrupted system is back to what it must be?
    I really don’t understand why wasn’t done already.
    If that happen, without daily sales, NameJet will fix the
    issue in no time at all. Otherwise, they will become
    something from the past. Money talks, right?

    Reply
  • Neil July 23, 2017, 2:37 pm

    Isn’t NJ part of a publicly traded parent company? Aren’t they subject to more stringent regulations and inspections than private companies?

    I think there is little doubt that NJ knew this kind of thing has been happening there for a while. They will drag out their response so the outcry dissipates over time and so they can just move a few chairs around without making any significant changes. They may suspend a few accounts, but I doubt that they take effective proactive steps to prevent shill bidding in the future.

    Reply
  • Dan Anderson July 23, 2017, 7:38 pm

    As long as the third party isn’t a domainer. I see a lot of people clamoring for that data, totally out of the goodness of their hearts. Bless them.

    Reply
  • Joseph Peterson July 23, 2017, 8:16 pm

    @Dan Anderson,

    I don’t think a non-domainer would understand the context or the dynamics of domain name auctions well enough to conduct an accurate audit. They might look as far as surnames, aliases, and IP addresses; but that’s the tip of the ice berg.

    Absolutely, any domainer would find such data interesting for reasons quite apart from a shill-bidding audit. But any auditor would have to understand what they’re auditing. And the only people who truly understand NameJet auctions are, in fact, domainers who bid there.

    Reply
    • Nick July 24, 2017, 6:16 am

      Dont underestimate the technical capabilities of an FBI investigative team. After all, its just an auction when you come down to it. Strip out the fact that the “item” is a domain name. It could be oranges. The fact that someone gamed the system* (the rules of the auction set by the company) is what is at the heart of the matter. Then they’ll look to see if NJ knew it was happening or not – which will be more difficult to investigate but not impossible.

      This all may be underway already. 😉

      The wild-west behavior of the domain industry will be undone by domainers themselves, not by anyone outside the industry “just because”.. I think we’re about to see this happen….

      * 18 U.S.C. § 1343 provides:

      Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

      Reply

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