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First Ever Criminal Arrest For Domain Name Theft 294

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the slowly-catching-up-with-the-times dept.
Domain Name News writes "Until recently, there hasn't been a case of a domain theft where the thief was caught and arrested. However, on July 30th, Daniel Goncalves was arrested at his home in Union, New Jersey and charged in a landmark case, the first criminal arrest for domain name theft in the United States. 'Cases of domain name theft have not typically involved a criminal prosecution because of the complexities, financial restraints and sheer time and energy involved. If a domain name is stolen, the victim of the crime in most cases would need experience with the technical and legal intricacies associated with the domain name system. To move the case forward, they would also need a law enforcement professional who understands the case or is willing to take the time to learn. For example, the Angels told us that in their case they called their local law enforcement in Florida who sent a uniformed officer in a squad car to their home. The first thing you can imagine the officer asked was, "What's a domain?"'"
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First Ever Criminal Arrest For Domain Name Theft

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  • Back in 1995, I was working as a salesman at Circuit City and sold a VCR to Steve Cohen, the guy who stole sex.com. He was bragging to me about how he'd been offered a million bucks for it but wasn't going to sell. Then he ended up returning the VCR. What a tool.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:17PM (#28931679)
      Well of course he returned the VCR. How could you steal sex.com and not know that you can get all the porn you want for free off the internet. Who needs a VCR.
    • by dhermann (648219) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:45PM (#28932043)

      Wow, what an amazing but totally unverifiable story!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by syousef (465911)

      Back in 1995, I was working as a salesman at Circuit City and sold a VCR to Steve Cohen, the guy who stole sex.com. He was bragging to me about how he'd been offered a million bucks for it but wasn't going to sell. Then he ended up returning the VCR. What a tool.

      Aren't you a little old to be believing in the porn fairy?

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:14PM (#28931629)

    The first thing you can imagine the officer asked was, "What's a domain?".'"

    Why can't they be smart and well-versed in all things, like IT Professionals?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by oodaloop (1229816)
      Because people who dedicate themselves to the service of others, the improvement of their community, and betterment of society are stupid fascist pigs, and should be treated as such. Right slashdot?
      • Because people who dedicate themselves to the service of others, the improvement of their community, and betterment of society are stupid fascist pigs, and should be treated as such.

        No, those are the good cops and deserve to be treated with as much respect as they treat the public with. However, not all cops are good ones. It would be pretty naive to think that there aren't at least a small percentage of stupid fascists who are also cops. It would also be naive to think ALL cops fit into this category. Right common sense?

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Sadly, one not being the other doesn't limit the other from being one.

        It may not be a requirement to be a fascist pig to be a police officer but often fascist pigs become police officers and they are the ones getting the media attention forming out opinions.

    • Seriously, you tell the average person that your domain name was stolen and they'll look at you like your speaking Martian.

      Big Fucking Deal, someone implied that a Police Officer may have as much of a grasp of how the internet works as the average person.

      When the Police send a uniformed Police Officer to your location after telling the police that your domain was stolen I would imagine that one question that would be asked would be "What is a domain?". This is not a jab at cops for being dumb, because they

      • by Ironica (124657)

        >

        When the Police send a uniformed Police Officer to your location after telling the police that your domain was stolen I would imagine that one question that would be asked would be "What is a domain?". This is not a jab at cops for being dumb, because they tend not to be dumb.

        If someone sent a police officer to your location after telling the police that your African Basengi was stolen, I would imagine the officer would ask, "What's a Basengi?"

        But I think the OP's jab was at IT professionals and how all-knowing they are. Next time I need to secure a crime scene, pursue a suspect, or arrest someone safely, I'll be sure to ask the nearest geek. ;-)

        Funny thing is, IT professionals (at the trenches level) and cops have similar pay. One has to know what a domain name is, the other

    • Why can't they be smart and well-versed in all things, like IT Professionals?

      Because they don't always have a good range of free reading materials at Dunkin' Donuts?

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:15PM (#28931651) Homepage

    The first thing you can imagine the officer asked was, "What's a domain?".

    Right before the cop knocked your pocket-protector-wearing geek ass out.

  • What he actually did (Score:5, Informative)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:16PM (#28931661) Journal

    Quoth TFA:

    Daniel Goncalves, the 25 year old law firm computer technician arrested on Thursday, reportedly hacked in to the Angelâ(TM)s AOL email account, used that information to retrieve the login details for the P2P.com from the Godaddy.com domain account. Goncalves performed an internal âoedomain pushâ transfer,which in effect transfered the domain name to another Godaddy account that he owned. Goncalves reportedly also falsified Paypal.com transaction records in an attempt to cover his trail and provide evidence that made it appear that he purchased the domain name for $900 from the Angels. The domain was listed in the name of Daniel Louvado during this time period (a bogus name consisting of Goncalves first name and his fiances last name).

    In late 2006, Goncalves put the domain name P2P.com up for sale on eBay.com and on September 24, 2006 the eBay.com auction for the domain P2P.com closed in the amount of $111,000.

  • Come on... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CWRUisTakingMyMoney (939585) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:17PM (#28931685)
    The first thing you can imagine the officer asked was, "What's a domain?"

    I get it! Cops are all dumb, lazy, and technically illiterate!

    Seriously, everyone. I know we all resent cops, but to imply that a whole department can't find a single officer who knows what a domain is is ridiculous and insulting. Let's try to keep our government/authority-hate at least sort of grounded in reality.
    • Re:Come on... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Roogna (9643) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:26PM (#28931787)

      You know, it didn't sound like they were trying to imply the cop was dumb. But that the legal system itself isn't able to redirect these kinds of reported crimes to the proper people within. Such as this, where for a domain name theft, they sent a officer, to the door of a house. Obviously that would be his first question, because he was the incorrect layer of law enforcement to even have responded to such a report, not because he was dumb. Now on the flip side, they probably shouldn't have been calling local police over it in the first place, but instead probably (and this is my guess, I may very well be incorrect myself) the FBI. But that's more the point, depending on the "crime" one may have to contact any of a number of different places and it's not all that clear, I think even to law enforcement professionals, let alone those -not- in law enforcement, on who to contact for what.

      • Why even the FBI? Can't you make a complaint to ICANN [icann.org] and have them resolve the dispute? Also since it was a godaddy account that was hacked, couldn't they also complain to godaddy?
        • ICANN will only respond to trademark disputes.

        • GoDaddy told them they should have protected themselves better. FWIW, he hacked into the owner's AOL email account in order to get access to their GoDaddy account.

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      Let's try to keep our government/authority-hate at least sort of grounded in reality.

      Yes, we should all just roll over and pretend to be happy when criminal charges are brought against breaches of civil law. It's the new game in the US, has been for the past decade or so. I'm happy that the rate of violent crime in the US is so low that law enforcement has time to tase 70 year olds because their sons were speeding, tase and pepper spray epileptics having seizures, and arrest people for

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Cramer (69040)

        If what I've read is true, he commited several crimes... breaking into the AOL account (computer trespass) to gain access to the godaddy account (computer trespass, fraud, wire fraud, ...), creating false transactions to cloud the picture and give the false impression that the domain was bought (fraud, banking fraud, CC fraud, ...) -- not sure what was involved there, and then sold the stolen property on ebay for a huge profit. This is indeed a matter for criminal court.

    • Its easy to make these jokes when they have been known to actively turn down applicants with high IQs.
      • by pnewhook (788591)

        Its easy to make these jokes when they have been known to actively turn down applicants with high IQs.

        Just being smart is not enough. Do you think they would/should accept Stephen Hawking for a street cop if he applied?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by syousef (465911)

      I get it! Cops are all dumb, lazy, and technically illiterate!

      They won't hire you if you're too smart.

      No I'm not trolling I'm serious:
      http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_56314.html [ananova.com]
      http://northernmuckraker.blogspot.com/2008/08/too-smart-to-be-cop.html [blogspot.com]
      http://irradiatedcat.blogspot.com/2008/06/too-smart-to-be-cop.html [blogspot.com]
      http://www.thepostroad.com/news/2000/20000912.new.london.pd.robert.jordan.html [thepostroad.com]

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      I get it! Cops are all dumb, lazy, and technically illiterate!

      Seriously, everyone. I know we all resent cops, but to imply that a whole department can't find a single officer who knows what a domain is is ridiculous and insulting. Let's try to keep our government/authority-hate at least sort of grounded in reality.

      I find it very interesting that your defense of the intelligence of the police is to insist that there surely must have been an officer somewhere in the department who knew what a 'domain' is.

      Rath

  • DNN? (Score:4, Informative)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:25PM (#28931773) Homepage
    Is anybody else in shock that there is actually a website devoted entirely to Domain Name News? [domainnamenews.com]
  • by arcsimm (1084173) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:34PM (#28931891)
    "Sleazy Well-Funded Ex-Attorney Domain Name Speculator Pushes Arrest Of Crooked Hacker." Seriously, the victim here is a cybersquatter.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:46PM (#28932069) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, I was thinking that too. There really aren't any good guys in this case.

      I know it would open up a huge can of worms, but I've often thought that domain name ownership ought to be like land owenership under the Homestead Act. That is, if you're the first person to apply for a domain, you get it for free, but you have to "improve" it, i.e., do something with it other than just sitting on it and hoping someone will pay you a bunch of money, in a certain amount of time or you don't get to keep it. Impractical, I know, but the whole idea of domain name squatting is just irritating as hell.

      • Some time ago I was looking for some PHP code help and found a promising-looking forum. Turns out it was mostly buying and selling domain names. These people improve the domains in terms of SEO and page rank, but in reality it is all a load of crap after the domain switches hands a few times, gets a way, way trumped up price, and eventually some fool has paid way too much based on perceived value. Gee, sounds a lot like the real estate market bust...
      • by GaryOlson (737642)
        "Improve" has that "value-added we can tax it" implication. Let's not give the government ideas. I prefer a more modest definition which frameworks actively using the domain name for legal, mundane activities. How we define pump-n-dump domain name marketing as illegal is the hard part.
    • Don't bother reading the article since you can obviously divine truth from the summary. But, excuse us mere mortals for thinking this is actually a case of theft since the victim hacked an account and stole login information.
    • Seriously, the victim here is a cybersquatter.

      I agree, except that the cybersquatter is apparently a multi-millionaire professional athlete. So, I expect very little sympathy for him.

  • by bwintx (813768) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:43PM (#28932015)

    Several references to "Angel's" in TFA should be "Angels'," meaning the possessive form of the plural proper noun Angels.

    So much for my positive karma... [sigh]

  • by Rastl (955935) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:46PM (#28932061) Journal

    Mind you, I heard the story from the person who had the domain name stolen and then returned. The story may have been embellished for effect. But it's still darn good.

    Someone I know owns a highly profitable and highly desirable domain name for shall we say, marital aids. He got smart and registered it in the early days and it's very much a thriving site. One day, someone stole it along with about a dozen other highly profitable domains.

    This gentleman contacted some of the other victims and they were willing to help out with catching who did this and with getting their domains back.

    The thieves were employees of Network Solutions and had planned on skipping the country very soon after the incidents. However, the victims pooled their money and hired a 'bounty hunter' to track down and find the thieves. He did, and for a little extra money the domains were returned without question.

    The person who told me the story has been silent on what happened to the thieves. He's leaving that to the imagination but I have a feeling they're at least quite sorry that they tried this stunt.

    I think that was much more satisfying than going through the court systems, etc. Not that I endorse taking the law into your own hands but when the courts aren't set up to deal with this type of crime sometimes you have to deal with it through side channels.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pmarini (989354)
      it's funny to notice that it's exactly like this that the Mafia started... providing state-like "services" from "alternate" sources... and then the people became "addicted" to them... and now it lives on... from within :-)
  • by hattig (47930) on Monday August 03, 2009 @03:54PM (#28932193) Journal

    And this is why businesses shouldn't email out customer passwords in emails.

    I get angry every time I get an email sayign "thanks for joining, your password is : xtyzseh85". REALLY? Like I just didn't enter that on your site. Also it suggests that the password is stored in clear text in their database, a big worry.

    What if you forget your password, you might ask? Well then you email out a temporary password, and set a flag in your database that the person is required to change their password when they log in. This vastly reduces the window of opportunity a thief would have (technically they could follow the "forgotten email?" path on the website, and intercept the emailed temporary password. Maybe the solution is temporary passwords sent by text to account holder phone, or one of those "what is your favourite colour?" questions before the password email is sent).

    Second issue - people using poor passwords. These people clearly had the keys to their $100k+ accounts available behind a paper screen door. Should we blame Yahoo! for this?

    Note that the crime is still entirely down to the criminal who did it, and not the people for having poor passwords, nor the registrar who allowed the domain transfer in good faith (although there must be questions asked about their notification procedures, the owners should have got an email about the transfer, and thus should have been able to get this sorted out BEFORE the domain auction was finished).

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:00PM (#28932295) Homepage

    To move the case forward, they would also need a law enforcement professional who understands the case or is willing to take the time to learn.

    This may come as a real shock to a lot of Americans, but it used to be that if you and your attorney could make a reasonable argument to a general district court judge that a crime had been committed, YOU could bring criminal charges. You and your attorney would be the prosecution.

    *Cue platitudes about our litigious society*

    The general posse comitatus approach was superior to what we have today. It had its abuses, but people tend to not grasp just how utterly powerless they are today to get wrongs corrected, to fight back against corruption, etc. In this day, it is literally impossible to bring charges against the powerful without the support of other powerful people who are sympathetic to your argument. Back in the day, if a powerful man were hiding behind his wealth and cronies, 20 armed men could haul him out of his house, shoot up the sheriff if he were on the take, and dump the SOB in a court if they had evidence.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And what do you think the RIAA would do at the first whiff of this being legal again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pnewhook (788591)

      Having a policy like loser pays legal bills of both sides would go a long way to making the court system fair. Right now its often richest guy wins because he can outlast the poor guy.

      • by dkf (304284)

        Having a policy like loser pays legal bills of both sides would go a long way to making the court system fair. Right now its often richest guy wins because he can outlast the poor guy.

        You still have the system in place to do that, you know. The judge could make a ruling in equity (I think that's the right term) that the loser should pay the winner's reasonable costs. Indeed, this is usually the case in UK courts and as I understand it there's enough similarity between legal systems for that to be potentially carriable-over. I've no idea why US courts don't seem to like to do it.

      • Having a policy like loser pays legal bills of both sides would go a long way to making the court system fair. Right now its often richest guy wins because he can outlast the poor guy.

        The richest would still win because they could still outlast the poor guy because they would still be paying out the arse for the best lawyers around while the poor guy couldn't afford to. The whole point of "loser pays" is that you only get paid if you win, and thus only makes the situation you're talking about worse. Becau

        • "Loser pays" solves nothing. It was an idea created by those who benefit from the current system and wanted to make it even more lopsided, sold as a reform to help make the courts "fair." It's anything but.

          I disagree

          If I was poor and had to pay legal bills to a lawyer upfront, I'd probably not even try even if I knew I was right as either I couldn't afford a good lawyer or maybe if I was lucky an inexperienced one.

          If I knew I was right and the loser pays, I'd get a good laywer and the playing field is now even.

  • Where's the FBI? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pmarini (989354)
    How is a local enforcement officer involved in a case of trademark/licensing/brand/virtualspace?

    Isn't this something that would have FBI jurisdiction, if anything - unless the "crime" requires the help of the Interpol/Europol...

    Questions:
    - How is this a theft? (I'm sure that Cisco didn't accuse Apple of "theft" for the iPhone name...)
    - How is this relevant in the XXI century? Surely it would take another couple of centuries before judges and juries would know anything about digital technologies... (no
    • by bhtooefr (649901)

      Well, for one thing, Apple didn't deprive Cisco of the use of the iPhone name.

      This guy did deprive the legitimate owners of the use of their domain names.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Cramer (69040)

      Actually, that was a trademark case. And Apple sued Cisco (aka Linksys) who did not have a product on the market using the iPhone trademark.

  • grrrr (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JackSpratts (660957) on Monday August 03, 2009 @04:16PM (#28932533) Homepage

    we had a domain stolen a few years ago at a board i mod. it was active and we lost all traffic instantly. like tfa it was also a p2p domain and also an email diversion. to get back up the admins registered "p2p-zone.com" and felt lucky to get it, but it wasn't the same. i was so po'd i wanted to throttle the arrogant nyc prick who did the snatch. instead i handed it off to the cops and eventually got it back through negotiation, but it took many months. it was our identity for years and we felt terrible when it was taken from us. what a pita. unfortunately because of the time that passed and a new name we were forced to adopt, we have never formally reincorporated it. we resolve to it but it really isn't "us" anymore as far as the public's concerned.

    - js.

  • If the MP/RIAA can sue over theft of their intellectual property, why can't we? About damn time.

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