If you have a great idea for a domain name – you will obviously want to rush out and buy it. You might go along to a website such as http://who.is and go ahead and see if the domain name is available.

Don’t!

If you value the name you have just come up with DO NOT go ahead and just check if it’s available. Nothing is safe on the Internet. It’s the American wild west out there.

This is what will happen: The who.is website will check if the domain is available for you or not and then one of two things will happen.

#1 Your domain name is not available and neither are any of the alternative domain extensions such as .info .org etc…

#2 Your domain IS available – You now have just a few seconds to secure your purchase because what happens behind the scenes is this; there is another side to who.is that is little known have a look here and you will see what I mean:

http://www.who.is/website-information/

Look at that page, wait for a few seconds and now refresh it – that’s right go ahead. You will notice a screen similar to this.

Domain name theft the easy way
Domain name theft the easy way

The observant among you will notice the words ‘Recently Queried’. This is a list of all the domain names being queried from all over the world. Original ideas being typed in by people from every country on Earth. Company names, original names, catchy names – and just occasionally brilliant ideas.

I was so annoyed when I found out that my domain had been stolen that I decided to find out just what the hell happened to my really good idea – the domain name is question is http://iam.info

IAM.INFO – that’s a great idea for a domain name. I bet that could be worth a few quid. As it turned out iam.info was available (before I did the who.is lookup). I made a note of it in my DNS server and then went to make the purchase only to find out from my ISP that is was…

TAKEN

I went back to who.is and queried the name iam.info again and this is what I was persented with:

Stolen in a nano second by PocketDomain.com!
Stolen in a nano second by PocketDomain.com!

For those of you who can’t read the text in the image the salient points are these:

Domain ID:D29869098-LRMS
Domain Name:IAM.INFO
Created On:30-Sep-2009  10:08:02 UTC
Last Updated On:30-Sep-2009 10:17:33 UTC
Expiration  Date:30-Sep-2010 10:08:02 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Alfena LLC  (R388-LRMS)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT RENEW  PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE  PROHIBITED
Status:INACTIVE
Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant  ID:C4643936-LRMS
Registrant Name:Domain Privacy
Registrant  Organization:Privacy, Domain
Registrant Street1:2141 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite  C-2
Registrant Street2:---- MAY BE AVAILABLE. NO SEDO OFFERS, PERIOD!  ----
Registrant Street3:---- EMAIL OFFERS TO [email protected]  ----
Registrant City:Washington
Registrant State/Province:DC
Registrant  Postal Code:20007
Registrant Country:US
Registrant  Phone:+1.2026257000
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant  FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:[email protected]

What this all means is that the second I came up with a great domain name and checked to see if it was available using who.is it got stolen by a company out in the States called Alfena within seconds of getting flagged. This is what happened with who.is:

If there’s a domain name that’s typed in – especially if it’s only a few letters long and a name like ‘iam’ is only three characters so that name with any extension is a good name and worth a lot of money so it gets flagged. This is what appears on the http://www.who.is/website-information/ information when an unregistered name of only three letters is typed in:

My domain name gets 'flagged'
My domain name gets 'flagged'

The information page changes, the title ‘iam.info’ is displayed along with another field in the table that says Links In Count 3. I think here that links in count 3 means there are only three letters in the domain name and the domain is flagged for immediate purchase/theft. In this case the ‘sponsoring registrar’ is called Alfena LLC the time and date of the domain registration are only seconds after my search – a valuable domain has just been stolen from right under my nose.

A word of caution.

I have had this happen to me before. A very large UK hosting company called Fasthosts.com almost successfully stole a domain name I was trying to register through them back in 2001. The domain name in question was www.matrixserver.co.uk another nice domain name I thought, but for some reason there was a problem with the registration process ‘this happens from time to time’ I was told.

The truth was Fasthosts lease out their dedicated servers for a monthly fee. They call them Matrix Servers and I having rented one went to buy the domain name but my registration was blocked by one of the directors because he wanted it for himself.

Is there a way to avoid this happening? Yes there is. If you want to register a domain name (now knowing that almost no one can be trusted) there is a way to do it. Without flagging any attention from those nice sweet people who would steal it from you in a heartbeat.

Post me a comment and I’ll buy it for you. If the Internet is gangland America then I’m Elliot Ness and I’m here to kick some ass.

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