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ICANN Finally nabs Domain Registry of America, termination likely coming

Domain Registry of America hits a wall.

ICANN has finally managed to suspend a scourge of the domain name registration business, Brandon Gray Internet Services (dba NameJuice.com).

You might not know the company by that name, but if you own domain names then you’ve likely received postal mailings from Domain Registry of America (DROA). The deceptive notices trick people into thinking they need to renew their domain name by responding to the notice. Doing so results in a transfer of the domain name to Brandon Gray registrar…and the pricetag is hefty.

The company has been doing this for over a decade. Register.com sued the company way back in 2002.

Many people in the ICANN community have been begging ICANN to take action for years. So why now?

For all its faults, you can credit the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement for this one.

The 2013 RAA placed stricter controls on registrars as it relates to resellers. Accredited registrars can no longer turn a blind eye to activities undertaken by their resellers (or to hide behind resellers, as may be the case). This includes resellers undertaking deceptive advertising practices.

ICANN is also questioning (pdf) how the company obtained mailing addresses for so many domain name registrants. (In other words, it scraped whois to get the records).

The registrar is immediately suspended (although it hasn’t updated its website to reflect this) and may be terminated soon. ICANN sent a breach notice (pdf) along with the suspension notice. It has onerous requirements to cure the breach, including providing details behind all of its marketing activities.

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  1. Scott Wolpow says

    Who falls for this anymore? In the 90’s I had clients fall for this, but they wised up.

    • James says

      Unfortunately, people “fall” for this scam quite often, and it is very difficult and expensive to help them recover their domain names.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      As James said, you’d be amazed. If your domain name is an afterthought, or if you work in the accounts payable department, you’d think these are just invoices from your registrar.

  2. Mike says

    Excuse me if im wrong, but I could see no reference to scraping of WHOIS ?. Maybe he got data from DomainTools ?

  3. Rob Rude says

    I’m thrilled to hear these creeps are finally going to get nailed. I’ve received dozens of scam renewal mailings from this company over the past 10+ years. Good riddance!

  4. Mike says

    Excellent news. We’ve lost many hours explaining this scam (along with others like the “someone is registering your domain name in China” notices) to clients.

  5. Jim Lewis says

    I just today received a “Domain Name Expiration Notice” from droa.com. Maybe they got wind of what was about to happen, and decided to try for one last batch of suckers? Is this worth reporting to anyone, I wonder?

  6. Allen Stecker says

    They’re all still in business today in spite of all the complaints. There is still nothing in ICANN’s official RAA that prevents a registrar from “slamming” a registrant into unknowingly signing over control of their domain. Additionally, no provision was made to reverse the damage, or alert the domain owners who fell pray to this. They now pay higher renewal fees, are charged to transfer their domain, and are even charged $80.00 to change the nameservers. There is no portal provided for anyone to manage their domain and must rely on the registrar to act on their behalf…which they are happy to do for a fee!

    So, ICANN, and anyone else who cares to prevent this…enforce that only the registrar utilized in the initial registration of a domain be allowed to renew or transfer a domain; and then only at the request of the registrant. How difficult is that? To make this stick, don’t simply suspend those found guilty of crimes, make them correct the harm created, give to charities, make license plates….take away their ability to be parasites.

    How many people or organizations committing cyber crimes are ever held accountable for their actions? NONE. Continuing that stance will only send a message, “that becoming a criminal is the path of least resistance”.

    I’ve had to jump through hoops more than one time to undo what Brandon Gray and their entities created, and never any help coming from them at all. In fact, they cannot be reached by phone, but do respond with emails saying that they’ve sent requested information to an email recipient who has yet to receive anything they said was sent.

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