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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Domain stolen while hosted at GoDaddy: Help!

    Short version: My locked domain name of ten years was, without my knowledge or permission, unlocked and transferred to someone in China.

    Long version:

    7/7/2003 - I registered a domain name (like 5BG.com) that has been parked at Go Daddy for ten years. Along with several other domains. Some have web sites, some don't.

    My domain was set to automatically renew and I had checked the "locked" box.

    Early 2013 - I was contacted by a company "5th Bride Games" that asked if I wanted to sell the domain. I responded once to say I'd think about it and how to set a price.
    • Is this related to what happened next? I don't know, but may be pertinent.


    5/7/13 - The domain was set to automatically renew in July and Go Daddy sent me an offer to "renew now and save 15%" or something like that.

    5/12/13 6AM - Go Daddy sent me an email that I had requested the status of 5BG.com be changed to "unlocked" -
    "You do not need to respond to this email. If, however, you think this change may have been made in error or fraudulently, please contact us within 15 days."

    5/12/13 4PM - I sent a notice to Go Daddy -
    • "When I look at my list of domains I do NOT see 5BG.com
    • I never gave permission for it to lapse or be transferred
    • Network Solutions lists another owner (Chinese, "owned since 7/7/2002" which is one day after I registered it)
    • Please fix the problem and notify me."


    5/17/13 - Go Daddy responded -
    "Although we requested that the current registrar reinstate you as the registrant, they have indicated that they will not assist with the return of the domain name(s). As the losing registrar, we no longer have control over the domain name(s). Likewise, any ICANN transfer is the responsibility of the gaining registrar. Therefore, you will need to contact the current registrar if you feel the transfer was handled improperly.
    Any dispute over the registration of the domain name(s) will need to be sent to the registrant, current registrar, through an ICANN-approved arbitration provider (http://www.icann.org/en/dndr/udrp/ap...-providers.htm) or the local court system.
    Regards,Alex H, Transfer Disputes, Go Daddy"

    HELP!
    1. What can I do? What is my recourse?
    2. Can any third party unlock any domain and transfer it away from the original owner?
    3. Would another hosting company be safer? I selected Go Daddy many years ago because they were inexpensive and they had direct phone calls for tech support. I have not had any other problems with them but this obviously upsets me.


    ======================
    For anyone interested in more details on the domain name -

    • I am keeping the actual domain name private because I am nervous this post might trigger complexities in resolving this
    • The "like 5BG" was an abbreviation for another domain "like 5 Bright Girls" that failed to get funded, but I've held onto the domain names just in case
    • I am willing to report the actual domain name in a PM

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  3. #2
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    Was the domain transferred before expiration? Did it expire? What exactly happened?
    Rui
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    R4

  4. #3
    Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruirib View Post
    Was the domain transferred before expiration? Did it expire? What exactly happened?
    It doesn't (or wouldn't have) expired until July. But it was set to automatically renew.
    • How could anyone "unlock" a registered domain at Go Daddy?
    • How could anyone transfer a domain without authorization from Go Daddy?

  5. #4
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    Who was registered as the owner and domain administrator? To allow a domain transfer, the administrator for the domain needs to agree.

    GoDaddy states this: http://support.godaddy.com/help/arti...trar?locale=en

    So, unless someone acted as you, only GoDaddy could do it. It seems to me your domain was stolen. If your domain was worthy enough money, I would probably be looking at suing GoDaddy and trying to get the domain name back through ICANN (although I would probably not be holding my breath).
    Rui
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    R4

  6. #5
    Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruirib View Post
    Who was registered as the owner and domain administrator? To allow a domain transfer, the administrator for the domain needs to agree.

    GoDaddy states this: http://support.godaddy.com/help/arti...trar?locale=en

    So, unless someone acted as you, only GoDaddy could do it. It seems to me your domain was stolen. If your domain was worthy enough money, I would probably be looking at suing GoDaddy and trying to get the domain name back through ICANN (although I would probably not be holding my breath).
    1. I was the owner and administrator
    2. So yes, I think this is called stealing
    3. I assume someone must have gone into my account, gotten past the password ("very strong" on most testers but certainly not unbreakable), and did their dirty deed


    I posted in the Lounge because I wanted some heavyweight opinions. I was flabbergasted when this happened. And it makes me think that this could happen to any domain registered with Go Daddy. Or is it any domain registered with anyone?

  7. #6
    3 Star Lounger SpywareDr's Avatar
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    Wikipedia: Domain hijacking > Description
    Domain hijacking can be done in several ways, generally by exploiting a vulnerability in the domain name registration system or through social engineering.

    The most common tactic used by a domain hijacker is to use acquired personal information about the actual domain owner to impersonate them and persuade the domain registrar to modify the registration information and/or transfer the domain to another registrar, a form of identity theft. Once this has been done, the hijacker has full control of the domain and can use it or sell it to a third party.

    Responses to discovered hijackings vary; sometimes the registration information can be returned to its original state by the current registrar, but this may be more difficult if the domain name was transferred to another registrar, particularly if that registrar resides in another country. In some cases the original domain owner is not able to regain control over the domain.

    The legal status of domain hijacking remains unclear. It is analogous with theft, in that the original owner is deprived of the benefits of the domain, but theft traditionally regards concrete goods such as jewelry and electronics, whereas domain name ownership is stored only in the digital state of the domain name registry, a network of computers. There are no specific laws regarding domain hijacking, nor any law that specifically holds the domain name registrar responsible for allowing the registrant information to be modified without the permission of the original registrant. In some cases there may be recourse under trademark law, but not all domain names are (or can be) registered as trademarks.
    Last edited by SpywareDr; 2013-05-22 at 07:19.

  8. #7
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    I am sure there are people at GoDaddy that could easily control the domain from within, without the need to hack into your account. It is even possible that this was done by an employee, on his own volition, without "corporate malfeasance". Have you looked at the possibility of filing a complaint using GoDaddy's own mechanisms? There must be a way to report wrongdoing by its employees or file some complaint about their own services?

    I would also fill a complaint with ICANN: http://www.icann.org/en/about/learning/faqs

    If GoDaddy does not provide a way to fix this, probably the courts are the place to solve this...

    Is this possible with any registrar? I would believe so, but doing it would prove any registrar unfit for the role and law enforcement and ICANN should know about it.
    Rui
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    R4

  9. #8
    New Lounger
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    Hi

    See this, though:

    http://support.godaddy.com/groups/go...daddy-account/

    I'm not sure how to use it but I am sure the various consumer protection groups in the US would be interested..

  10. #9
    New Lounger
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    Hi

    I also found:

    http://www.famousbloggers.net/domain.html <- see the advice in here! It appears sound!

  11. #10
    New Lounger
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    Good luck getting any help or satisfaction from GoDaddy!!

    In the security community they have a really bad rep for hosting anything & everything but never responding to confirmed & well documented reports of drive-by malware, illegal activities, spammers or abuse. They are averse to anything that requires them to actually DO something unless they can charge for it! Their biggest money grabbing disservice to the public is their "Domains by Proxy" registration service that hides & blocks access to ALL information about a domain registrant without a court order

    Regrettably domain name theft can happen with a lot of registrars BUT it should NOT be possible. A reputable registrar will not transfer a domain name for a specified time period (usually at least 48 hours) & only after they have sent an email to the address they have for you & received confirmation back that you did initiate the transfer. To comply with all that, a thief, after hacking into your account, would need to change at least your email address (& possibly your password) before initiating the domain name transfer. Those changes should trigger at least one email to your original address asking for confirmation! The whole sequence should raise huge red flags with ANY decent registrar!

    What can you do?
    Contact the new registrar yourself & accuse their registrant of theft.
    Contact ICANN & initiate a dispute BUT, if the new registrar is out of their jurisdiction, they may not be able to help.

    Good luck, I'm afraid you'll need it
    If at first you do not succeed...
    Look in the trash for the instructions!
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  12. #11
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    Hi Hobkirk

    Network Solutions (who I believe registers all domains) usually send email confirmations whenever there is a change to the registration information. In the absence of such emails, my guess is that it is a GoDaddy issue.

    Having said that, with all the news about and Chinese cyberespionage, if there is a Chinese subsidiary / link to Network Solutions - the compromise could have taken place there.

    I know the above is not much help to you, but it would be worth a try using the link that "ruirlb" provides in his post of 2013-05-22 06:36
    http://support.godaddy.com/help/arti...trar?locale=en

    Mike

  13. #12
    New Lounger
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    I feel your pain. I had a personal website registered with Microsoft for 7 or 8 years. It started oiut as a freebee part of live office (or something like that), with only the ability to use MicroSoft templates. I wanted more control so after a year I paid the annual registration fee for the domain. All was happy until last summer (6 months before renewal) I received an email from a Chinese company trying to bill me $50 for the upcoming year's registration. I was puzzled, and I ignored it. A month later, 5 months before expiry, my website disappeared from my domain and was replaced with a placeholder page. I contacted Microsoft and was told that the domain had been transferred, and they were no longer doing the hosting / registrations. Nothing they could, or would do. Not worth the expense and energy to chase some Chinese hijacker for a website that basically hosted personal and family stuff anyhow. The most major annoyance was that my Windows 7 phone (there's another story) was / is tied to the hijacked domain's primary email account. *sigh* So I lost my domain and my email, and my wife's email. The calendar and contacts still exist, for the time being anyhow. If that lasts 6 more months I'll be happy emough - then I can throw the phone, calendar, contact list, and domain event into the trash bin, where they all belong.
    There - now I feel better!

  14. #13
    New Lounger
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    I wish you the best of luck. This same thing happened to my wife about 5 years ago. I was never able to figure out the exact mechanism used to steal the site, but NO ONE was of any help. Oddly enough, GoDaddy was involved. Her site was stolen by a Russian, and some research at the time revealed this person had hundreds of registered domains. The whole thing was quite embarrassing as she is a Christian author and the new owner put up a porn site. About two weeks after the renewal date had passed, I received an email offering to let me buy the site back for $10,000. We decided to pass. The porn site was kept alive for 2 years and then allowed to lapse. We have not re-registered the name.

  15. #14
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    "Go Daddy sent me an email that I had requested the status of 5BG.com be changed to "unlocked" "
    How was this request initiated? Via email? Via website?

    Every time I have transferred domains from one registrar to another I had to unlock the domain. One can not request a domain to be unlocked without supplying either secret code or other passwords to the registrar so that they have some authentication.

    As well I have had to generate a token from the loosing registrar (GoDaddy in this case) and give the gaining registrar the token for the transfer to proceed.

    Something sounds fishy on GoDaddy's side here. How strong of a password did you have on your GoDaddy account? Did you have private whois enabled for this domain when it was registered with GoDaddy?

  16. #15
    New Lounger
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    Here is my 2 cents. I do not let the registrars "hide" registration because I can Always go to WhoIs and see my information and if it is correct.

    I suggest making a YouTube Video about the problem and call out GoDaddy. They Can and Should product the paper trail of who, what, when, and how the domain was changed and that you have auto renewed it from get go.

    YouTube videos have worked for me to expose fraud, lack of customer service, and complete lack of service period. Best of luck to you.

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