201904.29

Twenty years of imprisonment incurred for a domain name

The frightening epic of Mr. Adams darkens. Adams is the founder of “State Snaps”, a social network with licentious content. Since followers of this social network had adopted the slogan “Do it for state”, Adams wanted to acquire the domain name doitforstate.com, whatever the cost. But the owner of the domain name refused to sell it. On several occasions, Adams threatened a relative of the domain owner with “armed emoticons”. After two years of unsuccessful threats, Adams eventually hired a member of his family (Mr. Hopkins) to enter the domain name holder’s home and force him to transfer the domain name under the threat of a gun (which, this time, was a real one). But the events did not go as planned for Mr. Hopkins. Indeed, the victim struggled and, although he was shot in the leg, managed to control his attacker and call the authorities.

In June 2018, Hopkins was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. As for Adams, he was found guilty in April 2019. Although his sentence has not yet been pronounced, he incurs up to twenty years of imprisonment and a fine of $ 250,000. That is what doitforstate.com could cost him (Justice.gov).

Like everything else, a domain name has an objective value (determined by the market), but also a subjective value: a specific domain name may be worth more in X’s eyes than in Y’s eyes. This is precisely the case in this tragic story, which differs from other cases of theft or attempted theft where domain names were generally objective because of their generic nature (eg, p2p.com, sex.com, 864.com). The doitforstate.com story also distinguishes by the violence of the facts. Usually, attempts to steal domain names take the form of computer attacks. It is advisable, in any case, to verify that domain names are properly secured.