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domain theft

ex-contractor refusing to return domain control

12:18 pm on Oct 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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i realize that responses to my questions should not be interpreted as legal advice of any kind.

i made it back to this post [webmasterworld.com...] - my story is almost exact opposite.

1. if you know of a lawyer i can contact, please let me know. TX or OK jurisdiction.

simple version is that i gave my business credit card to another person, in order to register a domain for my business. he used my cc and i have my info in the receipt's billing section, but the registration is in his name. he is refusing to transfer the domain to an account i can control and ready for my go-live. the domain company has acknowledged the billing info, but refuses to make any changes until court / icann communication.

2. can i sue him for theft?

3. or is this more suited for ICANN resolution process and their filling fee?

the "rest" of the story is that we went into business intending to be partners, but never signed anything because he could never put up cash. meanwhile i paid for 3 person/years of work and provided all ideas and management. moreover, i gave him a substantial sum of money intended as a loan. so his investment was "just" average quality server admin work and configuration + some questionable graph design (of course, he thinks he was fantastic).

later i also paid another party for logo and trademark work/fees - these are in the name of the llc i own.

a while ago my would-be-partner and i got into a quarrel over creative differences and the quality of his work - so he demanded a signed doc, but could/would not put up cash for any spending. instead of llc ownership, i offered a long term contract for work that would reduce our interaction and would pay a pct of profit (smaller than any previous discussion over the years).

his ego was hurt too badly and he just quit, 2/3 of the way to go-live. since he could/would not repay the loan, i rejected his claims to profits or ownership. i have not yet made a dime from any of this. and i have documentation for each payment he received from me.

i have 2 other domains like: my?.com and ?.tv that i can use, but i am concerned about loosing traffic to the original .com under his control - at first launch my modified domain name SEO will not yet "overtake" the raw keywords in the original name. also, the domain word is in the logo.

4. what do you think?
1:13 pm on Oct 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 11, 2003
votes: 12

I got heavily screwed over a business partnership a number of years ago. I put up all the expense money, partner never paid their half - and worse I never got paid for any sales (and I strongly suspect sales profits were in the 6 figures).

I controlled the domain in this instance. He ripped my domain off (template and all) and went out on his own once I started demanding accountability - never to be heard from again.

Shrug. I suppose I could've done done many of the things you're asking about. What I did do was simply move on.

Today I'm doing fine, no partner. In fact, that little lesson is what made me proficient at the last aspect of my business that I was trying to stay away from - sales. Today I have no doubt I outsell this guy by many multiples.

I'm also going out to lunch today with a bunch of friends and former coworkers, people who know both me and my former partner. He's of course cut himself off from all of these people.

So I outperform him in sales, I operate 100% of all the aspects of my business with no reliance on anyone, and I've maintained all my friends. he's disappeared from the face of the earth and no longer has much sales online that I can tell.

All in all, a worthwhile lesson for me. I certainly didn't throw good money after bad though, in trying to make him accountable.
4:46 pm on Oct 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Jan 25, 2005
votes: 99

This might be a bit radical, but have you considered doing a chargeback?

The registrar will probably kill the domain quickly, and if you time it right you might be able to snap it up before it's purchased again, perhaps from a different registrar.
6:12 pm on Oct 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

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interesting! pretty ingenious.

this transaction took place more than a year ago, but i will check with the domain company what do they do in such situations - e.g. notify the "owner" or just put it back on the market;

and then i can perhaps talk to my cc.

anyone else with relevant opinions?
12:20 am on Oct 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

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joined:July 12, 2002
votes: 1

I know how it hurts.. but I would say - follow wheel - learn your lesson and simply move on.