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I did not authorize the transfer of ownership of my domain.
The pending transfer of registrant notice and the completed transfer notice emails were sent to my email address, in the very early hours of a morning (EST) and about 20 minutes apart.
I did not receive any other emails before these two.
Upon seeing these emails, I contacted the registrar (a big one) straightaway and they then advised me that the ony way this could have happened is if the new owner knew my login information.
My login and password were not at all easy to guess and therefore, I suspect that there was inside involvement from the registrar.
Is there any other way my account information could have been obtained?
I use a Mac and do not write down any of my login information or use my account away from home.
My registrar then asked me to fill in a form and provide further security information on myself, but I was not willing to provide all the information requested (including agreeing not to sue them/take action etc.) since I beleieved that there could be security issues at the registrar and sending them further important identifying information jeopardies my security even further, apart from the fact that they have no basis to ask for such information.
The fact that I have been the sole registrant for several years and testify that I did not agree to change the domain registrant should be enough for the registrar, but why does the registrar not take action to obtain evidence from the thief as to what authority they had to obtain the domain name?
The registrar informed me that I now have to apply to an ICANN-approved arbitration provider, which for the USA means WIPO and who charge a lot of money before they will take on a case, money that I cannot afford to pay and money that I doubt I will be able to recover from the thief.
I have contacted ICANN by email and voicemail, a few times now, but they have not made contact with me. Their website doesn't seem to offer any help to domain owners as to what to do in such a case.
I would like as much help as possible from anyone as to what options are available to me and what I should do next.
I am extremely upset over this matter and feel I have nowhere to turn.
Thank you in advance for any help.
1) Notify the registrar clearly and simply that you consider that a crime has taken place.
2) State that you believe that an employee of the registrar was either negligent or complicit in the crime.
3) Give the registrar 48 hours to correct the mistake stating clearly that if the domain has been transferred to another registrar that you still require them to take all possible actions to recover the domain or else you will
4) Go to the police and report the crime as theft and seek legal advice. Also state that you will hold the registrar liable for 100% of all costs incurred, loss of earnings and, say, $100 per hour for your own time (you'll need to keep a diary if you plan to follow through on this).
Keep the language plain, simple and business-like.
One and only one good thing u have going it was within the same register and you have 60 days before it can be moved to another register.
The first action is to get tough as I outlined above. In my experience, there is about a 50% chance of success (with companies in general, not registrars) provided you keep your message short, simple and professional. Since you have already corresponded with the registrar, you may have already indicated that you don't know how to handle the situation, so you should also state that you have taken legal advice.
You must think of this rather like someone taking an unauthorised payment from your bank account. Sure, it's illegal, but you have to try to sort this out yourself first - the police are your LAST resort.
Before you can expect any help from the police, you must establish that it's not a clerical error and the registrar must state clearly that they refuse to reinstate the domain name. When you have that statement, you can, in theory, take it to the police, but you will have to be very organised and will have to be able to explain clearly and concisely (with details, dates, copies of emails etc. in a file - at least two copies) what the problem is and what steps you have taken to correct it.
In addition, you may need to take out an injunction to ensure that the domain is not transferred to another registrar. You may be able to do this without a lawyer - I don't know.
For the purpose of explaining the problem to the police...
1) A domain name is a piece of electronic real estate.
2) A registrar is a licensed repository for the deeds to said real estate.
3) The crime alleged is that the registrar has transferred the deeds without consent and refused to return them.
Hopefully, this explanation will be simple enough for the officer you see initially to understand and he/she should then be able to direct you to the right dept. However, don't expect them to be keen to help because they won't be. Clearly, theft has occurred, but no one has been hit over the head, etc.
According to the ICANN website registrars are required to act as follows in the event of a dispute.
Source of quote:ICANN FAQ
All ICANN-accredited registrars follow a uniform dispute resolution policy. Under that policy, disputes over entitlement to a domain-name registration are ordinarily resolved by court litigation between the parties claiming rights to the registration. Once the court rules on who is entitled to the registration, the registrar will implement that ruling. In disputes arising from registrations allegedly made abusively (such as "cyber-squatting" and ?cyber-piracy"), the uniform policy provides an expedited administrative procedure to allow the dispute to be resolved without the cost and delays often encountered in court litigation. In these cases, you can invoke the administrative procedure by filing a complaint with one of the dispute-resolution service providers.
From what I am reading here I would start by invoking the administrative procedure by filing a complaint with one of the dispute-resolution service providers. There is a link right under this entry in their FAQ
There is also an ombudsman you can email for info.
[edited by: Demaestro at 10:24 pm (utc) on Jan. 26, 2010]
In the UK, at this point you could take it up with your local member of parliament (who could more or less force the police to act) however in the US, I can't comment further.
This option is a non-starter for me or for most people and really is only an option if you are a company and have the funds.
expedited administrative procedure to allow the dispute to be resolved without the cost and delays often encountered in court litigation.
And thought it meant there was no cost but I see now that it just says without the cost of court. I didn't think that there would be a cost to go through that procedure.
This may be a huge long shot but have you tried contacting the person that it was transferred to. He may be willing to work something out with you.
This is a horrible situation and I know it is one that could happen to most of us. I had an issue with a domain and it took a year to resolve. In my case though I lost ownership to the host company itself, who transferred it to a different company but same owner group. I was lucky though, they never changed my name-servers so my site stayed up during the resolution process.
Call the register don't talk to coustomer service ask for another level, if you don't get the response your looking for demand to go higher.
Take a sick day from work stay on the phone ALLLLLLLL DAY if you have to. Don't ask demand some action to be taken at the very least a hold on the domain name. Don't give up fight fight fight call call call alllllll day long.
I know the register can see the ip that changed the account I know they can see this looks strange you have to press hard stay on them until some action is taken.
There are only 2 possibilities in my view:
1. Someone at the registrar held the thief
2. The registrar has security issues.
The registrar has already behaved unprofessionally and are disinterested in this matter.
I have read that they have had lots of domain name thefts.
I will not use them ever again.
I cannot afford to take time off just to call these jerks.
I won't lie to my employer.
I think we've exhausted the core issue of this thread and I really don't want to now veer into voting/endorsing one registrar over another for "their security".
If any registrar was really bad chances are, with the way the Web works, they wouldn't be in business for long because word would get out.
You are probably on secure footing with most any of the larger direct seller registrars. All the more so if you take steps to protect your account: Difficult password. Reliable and protected email account. Routine monitoring by yourself and the registrar's systems (expiration alerts, etc.).
Time to put this baby . . err, thread . . to bed.
I am quite shocked and very unhappy to discover that there is not, effectively, any actual recourse open for a domain owner who has had their domain name stolen and which is free or low cost (as it should be for victims).
ICANN and their so called "independent arbitration providers", are not interested in domain name theft, at least not at the low level, and their fees are an obstruction to justice. I received zero help/response from them.
I have all the security measures in place that you listed in your final posting and following what I have read and experienced, this registrar is well aware of its security breaches (and has done for some years now), and of the MANY domain name thefts from its customers that have occurred and which have been documented.
Therefore, they are clearly 100% culpable in the theft of my domain name.
I am finding lots of references, stories, websites, blogs, etc., of other people who have been subjected to all kinds of poor service, security breaches and domain name thefts by the same registrar I am with
SilverShine advised me that he did his research before choosing this registrar, but that his registrar's reputation and/or services - as stated above - appears to have lost some of its shine over time.
Therein lies the final lessons of this thread: It's the Web. Do a few searches before doing business. Search today for reputation information relating to any business with whom you have an ongoing relationship - before that bad reputation catches up with you. Registrars can change ownership and service can begin to slide.
IF the registrar is starting to fall down on the job it's not long before word starts getting out in the domain forums (where they let you post specific grievances), on the blogs, in the domain new aggregators.
Unfortunately, in the realm of domain name losses, most complaints are posted anonymously. Any number of complaints can be competitors making noise, people blaming a company for own mistakes, people trying to punish companies for perceived wrongs, etc.
I personally have seen people arrive in domain forums for the sole mission of going on and on about a specific domain registrar, as if by complaining loud enough and long enough they might extract their pound of flesh. Unfortunately, people tend to turn a deaf eye / blind eye to these threads as they tend to be feckless endeavors.
WebmasterWorld's members have done their best to be of assistance to you, SilverShine. Unfortunately, our best isn't good enough to fix the problem.
Hopefully your story will cause others to take a second look at their current service provider so they don't end up in the same situation.
Good luck in the future SilverShine.
This thread is now being locked.