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GoDaddy Stole My Domain!

GoDaddy Stole My Domain!Does this sound like a familiar situation for you?

You:

  1. Went to GoDaddy (or name another popular domain name registrar),
  2. Searched for a domain name,
  3. Saw that it was available for registration,
  4. Decided to take a few days to think about it,
  5. Decided you wanted to register the domain name and
  6. Went back to GoDaddy only to find that it was already registered.

Then, of course, you think: GoDaddy stole my domain name!

How could it not be GoDaddy?

GoDaddy saw that you did the domain name availability search, the domain name is obviously brilliant, so they registered it and who knows what they plan to do with it.

But did GoDaddy really steal your domain name?

I received the following email from a reader recently:

Hi Michael,

I searched at GoDaddy a domain name and it was available, but I didn’t register it. A few days later I decided to build a website using that domain and found that GoDaddy registered it 2 days after my search and parked it in a phony web site saying “buy this domain”.

newly-registered-domain-parking-page

It’s heart breaking but a good lesson learned.

Why isn’t this illegal for GoDaddy to offer a domain search and then buy the ones people don’t register, like you write at https://www.domainsherpa.com/prevent-domain-name-front-running/?

Shouldn’t they have a warning, “if you don’t register the domain we may register and sell the domain name you type into our search”? It’s almost like they’re stealing my intellectual rights.

Obviously I’m new to all this but this is really questionable business practices.

Thanks for this article,
John

So, did GoDaddy really steal this domain name?

The answer is no. Let me tell you why.

You can determine who owns a domain name by doing a “whois lookup”, which is basically a phone book for domain names. (There are hundreds of sites that allow whois lookups, these are just two.)

If you visit https://whois.domaintools.com/ or https://who.godaddy.com/ and type in the domain name, you can see who owns a domain name.

For instance, if you look up “domainsherpa.com” here is what you see:

whois-domainsherpa

While difficult to read because it’s all one big block of text, you can see:

  • The registrant is Michael Cyger (me)
  • The email address and phone number are listed
  • Even though GoDaddy is listed as the registrar, they are not the registrant

More than 80,000 .com domain names are registered on a daily basis. Those are brand-new, hand registrations at registrars like GoDaddy around the world. In one day.

In the “SLDs Added to / Dropped from Zone” graph, you can view the .com domain names registered (green) and allowed to expire (red) for the past few days.

Is it possible that another person thought of the same, great domain name to register as you?

You bet it is.

Especially if the domain name is a generic or really cool brandable sounding domain name.

The lesson learned (well, two lessons):

1. GoDaddy is in the business of registering domain names, not front-running domain names that you’re searching for, and

2. There are more than 7 billion people in the world and the likelihood that someone else thinks of the domain name you want increases with time. Don’t wait, register the domain name when you think of it. The worst case scenario is that you don’t renew it a year later and let it expire…and you’re out $10-15 for the one year registration. (You can even register a domain name for $1.)

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37 Responses to “GoDaddy Stole My Domain!”

  1. Llewellyn says:

    Godaddy registered a domain name I was considering. My mistake was to use the godaddy domain search platform several times to check availability of the domain over 4 days.
    By around day 4 the domain was registered. This was many years ago.

    I never used godaddy to check availability again and have resorted to doing local nslookup searches instead to verify the existance of the domain.

    Your argument that godaddy would have registered it under their details is silly. Why expose themselves to lawsuits by doing that?

  2. Chelsea says:

    Michael, what you are doing by posting this article is helping propagate an industry that prohibits entrepreneurial growth by stealing people’s domains with domain tasting.

    Honestly, I hope you feel shame knowing that you did your part in your life make the world a lesser place. Your selfish behavior (I am sure you did not post this pure defense of GoDaddy without benefit) has real life consequences for us and future generations.

  3. Cornelius says:

    Same deal with GoDaddy messing with me. I had a few sites registered. I had auto renew. They said they had my old credit card info on one of the sites (which I didn’t know was possible, if I update my profile, that means my current card is for ALL of my transactions with you). Long story short, they said my site had expired and was with another owner. I asked how this was possible given that I had auto renew, but they maintained my auto renew wasn’t valid and there was nothing they could do. The info on it is private, so I can’t even see who’s got it, but this was just some underhanded BS.

    1. Maroon says:

      The same thing happened to me ! I got email says my domain was removed ?! I contact GoDaddy by phone , the guy on GoDaddy says that’s true and it’s really weird issue…after 15 minutes waiting…says it’s on hugedomains.com he says! It’s not at GoDaddy anymore ….

      Btw my domain was on auto renewal and I did confirmed it and my credit card was OK a month before the expiration date…the domain just disaperd from the account!!!

      Btw today it’s the second day after I got ripped off and my domain showing for sale on GoDaddy ! For 5298.42$

      And it’s not the first time they do tricks , last year I disabled (turned off) some domains auto renewal’s and when I logged in few days later they showed up with auto renewal ON !!! Since the auto renewal issue I double check my domains every few weeks sometime few days… And still got ripped off.

  4. Steve Mussell says:

    Hi there I found the most amazing domain name in the world I was so excited I was trembling as I typed in. As soon as I’d finished I added it to the basket but then it told me that I need to login. Between then and logging in again that the man had gone up in price from £14-£1400. And guess what? The registrant was godaddy.com

  5. FUgodaddy says:

    Yep, mine got taken within 15 minutes can you believe that s***! Searched it was green on a different site than GoDaddy, I’m not going to mention the site but I believe it is affiliated with GoDaddy, since when you go to purchase domain it takes you right to GoDaddy, anyways long story short I had the name I could not believe it was still available it was a freaking Gold Mine of a name seriously a heavy-hitter SEO, went to take a pi** and drink a smoothie came back to see GoDaddy bought it up and they were wanting commission off of it, I could have helped a lot of people with that domain, true integrity, but some spineless worm got greedy, f*** GoDaddy.

    1. Steve Mussell says:

      Wey annoying. They did it to me too.

  6. Jp says:

    B.s. godaddy just has insiders they sell to why the he’ll would they buy a website under their own names

  7. Ian says:

    This is just a con-job on the poster’s behalf. Not sure if it’s sponsored directly or indirectly but clearly this post’s intention is to spread misinformation.

    As hundreds of people have found it, searching for a domain on certain registrars, particularly GoDaddy, is logged and monitored heavily. I’ve personally experienced what others have already stated; look up a domain on GD, see it’s available. Come back a day or two later to register it only to find out it has been taken.

    In my case, it was taken by HugeDomains, which is one of the world’s largest domain re-sellers. How did I know? By checking the WHOIS directory. GD definitely has agreements with re-sellers, especially when it comes to their auctions and dropcatch services. But that’s a story for another day.

    Also, when you look up a domain on GD and find out it’s available, if you’re doing it under a registered account, you will get an upselling e-mail within a day saying “Hey, domainyoulookedup.com is available! Save 20% on domainyoulookedup.com today!”

    Now, how would they know what domain you looked up if they didn’t monitor the searches? Hmm…

    Good luck explaining that one, Mike. Anyway, don’t bother. We all know the answer.

  8. omer says:

    Godaddy is rubbish company. Steal the domain name, what I was looking for, found available and about to buy. But when I opened the page after few hours, it was gone. what a coincident….right? nope, it’s “GoDaddy. Do not search and buy the domain names from this site.

  9. Terry Bates says:

    Go Daddy DO steal domain names, they use pseudonyms/different business names and park them up . It happened to me, I placed in a basket 2 domain names and went back 6 hours later to find that the domain names were now mysteriously not available. I was then offered them at £500 each. Now 1 year later I do a whois and these domain names are registered to… Go Daddy of course. They are thieves and will never get a penny of my business. I also spoke to someone not he phone about this and I cornered him and he more or less admitted it, Go daddy are domain name thieves and con merchants. You should tell the world.

  10. Anant Singh says:

    Q.1 Can i renew my domain name(DN) 1 day before it’s expiry to protect it as precaution before hand ? As i don’t want my DN to be fished by someone else after it’s expiry.
    Q.2 Does renewing it (from same registrar) will cost more then the cost when i purchased it at startup ?
    Q3. is there any grace period given to renew our fav. DN ?

    Note : not interested in hosting services.

    Thank You in advance.

  11. Brian says:

    This happened to me a few years back. I water to register MetroBrothers.com and two days later, I went to register it and it was gone. I used the wayback machine and found that it was only taken from a short period of time over a decade ago. It sat unregistered for years afterwards. Then, within 48 hours of my search, it’s gone. I have a very hard time believing this was a coincidence. If someone else thought of it, why is the site not being used.

    1. Hi Brian,

      It is no doubt frustrating to want a domain name, do a search and then see a few days (or weeks) later that it’s reserved. But there are 323 million people in the USA alone, and it is possible that one of them had a similar idea as you — especially with a two word domain name like MetroBrothers.

      If you go to https://whois.domaintools.com/metrobrothers.com and look up the whois information, you will see that the domain name was registered on November 26, 2014 by Ziying Gao in Texas. You can see his email address and phone number, and contact him to ask if he’ll sell it to you. Or not, it’s your choice.

      As for your “If someone else thought of it, why is the site not being used.” question, a majority of registered domain names do not have websites. It’s very similar to vacant land…someone owns it, but there’s no house built on it — but that doesn’t mean that people don’t have plans for it, are investing in it and waiting for appreciation, or might be interested in selling it.

      Good luck in your project or business. I hope you get the domain name if you really want it. The opportunity is there.

      Best,
      Michael

      1. Ron says:

        Michael you are so full of crap. While what you are doing isn’t illegal, although it should be, you and I both damn well know that godaddy buys domains or reserves them or whatever semantics you want to use. I know this is a fact because in the past I have tested it several times. Out of the 6-7 times I tested it, godaddy miraculously bought the domain either the same day or the next day 4 of those times.

        1. Maj Abu Side Raiahan says:

          Dear Ron,

          There is something call Business ethics and service privilege. If you take service privilege from the same business where you are the service provider then are you going to tell me that you are running the business with proper business ethics.

          Your word is completely correct that Michael Cyger’s explanation is fully crap. They are utilising decision gape to make extra Buck. It may be the company or some culprit employee But they are doing it. I lost a domain name Mrittika.com with in two hours. It is a Bangla word which means Soil/earth/land and none of the english person (Except few) suppose to know that. This word is also available In hindi with a same meaning. When I found the domain name I was waiting the for the comment from my team members when I got their opinion I found the site was in premium asking 1500$. I left it .. And don’t’ want to register that name.

          See the link below..

          https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=mrittika.com

          http://mrittika.com/?reqp=1&reqr=

      2. Ron B says:

        Michael you are so full of crap. While what you are doing isn’t illegal, although it should be, you and I both damn well know that godaddy buys domains or reserves them or whatever semantics you want to use. I know this is a fact because in the past I have tested it several times. Out of the 6-7 times I tested it, godaddy miraculously bought the domain either the same day or the next day.

  12. Shawn Zang says:

    Same story here.

    I searched zangj.com on godday yesterday and today it’s gone!

    I don’t believe this was a coincident.

    The name is quite rare.

    I will never search a domain from dodaddy again.

    1. Hi Shawn,

      Sorry to hear that you were not able to register the domain name you wanted: zangj.com

      I did a WHOIS search just now and here’s what I see:

      Registrar: hichina.com (EDITORIAL NOTE: THIS IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH GODADDY)
      Registrant Name: Nexperian Holding Limited
      Registrant Organization: Nexperian Holding Limited
      Registrant Street: Le Jia International No.999 Liang Mu Road Yuhang District
      Registrant City: Hangzhou
      Registrant State/Province: Zhejiang
      Registrant Postal Code: 311121
      Registrant Country: CN
      Registrant Phone: +86.57185022088
      Registrant Fax: +86.57186562951
      Registrant Email: yuming@yinsibaohu.aliyun.com

      I don’t have any idea what it means, but when I put “zangj” into Google Translate it says, “Did you mean 藏经”. Perhaps this is the transliteration of a Chinese word?

      In any case, if you can prove that GoDaddy shares WHOIS search data with HiChina.com or Alibaba, then I’ll break this story wide open. However, I cannot say that you provided any conclusive data yet.

      Again, sorry you lost the domain name you wanted. I hope you can find a replacement soon.

      Best,
      Michael

  13. ethan klein says:

    Yes NEVER search for a name in godaddy if you are not planning to buy it right away, godaddy has sold my domain lookup data too many times, i was gonna register vz4(dot)com and got snatched 2 days later (paypal funds where clearing) and to this day (7 years later ) its still sitting in some squatters parking site
    (even random long names like lucasandfamilyengineers got squated lol)

    do your lookup on ICANN’s site

    1. Hi Ethan,

      Thanks for reading the article and taking a moment to post a comment. Thanks also for the information you shared.

      I did a bit of research and found some interesting facts that I’d like to get your feedback on.

      You said you were going to register VZ4.com 7 years ago. That would put it around 2010. But VZ4.com has been registered continuously since 2004. You can see the “created on” date at https://whois.domaintools.com/vz4.com and it’s specified as 2004-01-24.

      Perhaps you thought VZ4.com was available for registration but it was actually in auction. That happens a lot because if you search and it’s in auction, I believe GoDaddy will give you some indication.

      Check out this video that could potentially explain what happened:

       

       
      Regarding lucasandfamilyengineers.com, that domain is available for registration. According to the WHOIS history tool I have access to, it has never been registered. I suggest you go and grab it as soon as possible if you are interested in it.

      I hope my explanations are helpful to you. If you feel like my explanations still don’t cover your issue, please post more data and I’ll be happy to look into it further.

      Best regards,
      Michael

  14. Crystal says:

    WARNING DO NOT USE GO DADDY EVER. THEY DO STEAL YOUR DOMAINS I HAVE TRIED IT LOADS OF TIMES WITH DIFFERENT NAMES GOING FROM ONE DOMAIN SITE BACK TO GO DADDY, ITS AVAILABLE ON ON A DIFFERENT SITE THEN I TO GO TO GO DADDY, TYPE THE NAME IN (THIS ISNT PURCHASING IT JUST TYPING)THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN ITS NOT AVAILABLE ON THE OTHER SITE AND NOW YOU CAN BUY IT OFF GO DADDY FOR £18.000 NO JOKE IVE BEEN TRYING IT FOR DAYS AND IT DOES THE SAME THING EVERYTIME, YOU GIVE THEM A GOOD NAME AND THEY MAKE YOU PAY, I THINK GO DADDY OWNS THE TOP 10 DOMAIN COMPANIES SO WHEN YOU ARE GOING FROM ONE DOMAIN SITE TO ANOTHER THEIR PROBABLY ALL GO DADDY, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED DO NOT TYPE YOUR NAME IN ANY DOMAIN SITES WITHOUT CHECKING THEM OUT ESPECIALLY GO DADDY EVEN TRY A FEW FAKE NAMES FIRST TO TEST IT

    1. Hi Crystal,

      Per our email exchange, I believe the confusion is how you’re determining if a domain name is available.

      If you type a domain name into your browser’s address bar and it doesn’t resolve, that DOES NOT mean that it is available. A domain name can be registered and not have an active website. Or it may only be using the domain name for email, or file transfer, or a development site in a third-level domain name.

      In order to determine if a domain name is available, you need to do a whois lookup: https://www.domainsherpa.com/how-to-determine-who-owns-a-domain-name/

      There are many, many whois services you can use for free to see if a domain name is registered. Here are two:
      https://whois.icann.org/en
      https://whois.domaintools.com/

      If the record comes back as “No domains found.” then it is available for registration at any registrar you choose (GoDaddy, Uniregistry, Name.com, 101domain.com, etc.)

      Here’s what an available domain name response from whois.icann.org looks like:

      Here’s what a registered domain name response from whois.icann.org looks like:

      Hope this helps.

      Best regards,
      Michael

  15. Abu Raiahan says:

    Same thing happened with me and it didn’t took a day with in one hour godady took the site. I feel like to file a law suit against them. Can you tell where to file it.

    1. Hi Abu,

      I emailed you personally to ask for details on your issue, but you didn’t reply nor provide any factual information.

      I do not think that GoDaddy steals domain names and was willing to invest my personal time to investigate your accusations. If you change your mind, please reply to my email or use the contact us form at the top of the page.

      Best regards,
      Michael

  16. Walsh says:

    Godaddy is so dishonest about this I searched for two domain names, and they were available. Two hours later, they’ve both been registered. That’s a terrible business practice

    1. Hi Walsh,

      What are the two domain names?

      I’ll research them for you and post my findings to get to the truth.

      Best,
      Michael

  17. brian mutiso says:

    Mine was stolen too. I registered zenitrak.com with godaddy past 2 days and now it is not available in my panel after having used it for 2 days. Other registrars list it as available but godaddy list it as not available to me. Waiting for other more two days to see whether it will be available for sale to break my bank

    1. Hi Brian,

      I believe you are mistaken. The domain you reference is available for registration: https://whois.domaintools.com/zenitrak.com

      I suggest you go register it as quickly as possible.

      It could have been that you didn’t not click the final “purchase” button, or similar, when you thought you previously purchased it. In any case, do not wait or someone else will register it.

      Best regards,
      Michael

  18. David says:

    I had a great name datamates.com, was registered with go daddy, let it lapse went to buy it from Go daddy again, and wow, its available but at £12,000.

    Looked up who is and the registrant, is Go Daddy,

    Lesson learnt. So yes they should not be trusted.

    The best method is to simply type the name you want into a browser, and if it comes up sorry domain name cant be found, go and buy it straight away.

    1. Hi David,

      You are not reading the whois record correctly: https://whois.domaintools.com/datamates.com

      While the registrar is GoDaddy, the registrant is a person in Korea:
      Registrant Name: cha baekjin
      Registrant Organization:
      Registrant Street: 1605-503 hanjinhaemoro , 548, Jeonggwan-ro, Jeonggwan-myeon, Gijang-gun,
      Busan, South-Korea
      Registrant City: busan
      Registrant State/Province: southkorea
      Registrant Postal Code: 619-740
      Registrant Country: KR
      Registrant Phone: +82.1063726322

      (You can read the definitions of registrar and registrant at https://www.domainsherpa.com/domain-name-dictionary/#R)

      Just like with land, or your home, or your possessions, you can ask anything you want when selling a domain name. Whether it’s realistic or whether anyone will pay that amount remains to be seen. Wait long enough, perhaps the registrant will let it expire like you did. Or, you can contact them and negotiate the purchase price, just like people normally do with land, or a home or possessions.

      Sorry you let your domain name expire and then decided you wanted it. It’s an unfortunate situation. But it’s definitely not GoDaddy’s fault.

      I hope you find another domain name that suits your needs.

      Best,
      Michael

  19. CD Saner says:

    Mr Cyger

    While this may not currently be the case, it certainly once was,
    multiple times I had this occur to me in early 2000, even in 15 minutes
    My advice is to try to go the url first, then be ready to purchase immediately,
    when looking it up on a registrars site..

    Regards

    Chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      If you believe it was in the past, but have no data, then I cannot try to debunk your statement. We can agree to disagree and move on.

      If you have recent data, please share and I’ll research. Happy to be proven wrong, but I doubt it’s the case and I will do the research jointly with you.

      If anyone is reading this and thinking, “yeah, me too” then do something about it. Here’s how you lookup domain names without using a third party website: https://www.domainsherpa.com/prevent-domain-name-front-running/

      Best wishes to all,
      Michael

      1. roger doger says:

        I let some domains lapse: all with different registrars; that I did not want, just to see if they were snapped up, the one with go daddy was, the rest were not, I then registered one of the lapsed ones with go daddy, let it lapse again and it was snapped up by them.

        The other domains that I let lapse 5 years ago (not registered with Go daddy) are still available.

        That proves the point, Go Daddy are unscrupulous, unethical, immoral, cunning, furtive, sly, roguish and sinful.

        Of course, is not illegal, many sites advertise lapsed domains for sale, many unimaginative domain brokers rely on this practice to buy and sell domains.

        However the snapping up of domains that you have searched the availability of, to register, as so many have said go daddy, have done, should put people of using them for the searching and purchasing domains.

        REMEMBER
        Always simply type the name of the domain you require in a browser, if it comes up. The site cant be reached, (which does not mean it is not registered) then go to
        https://whois.icann.org, (not who is dot net) and see if it is registered.

        SIMPLE. Job Done. But never use Go Daddy, for anything, I own 500 domains, and used to have quite a lot registered with go daddy, I knew no different in my early years of domaining, and I estimated that simply logging in and taking care of them used to take 3 to 4 times longer with go daddy, because of all the advertising bollocks and the disorganised way their site works.

        1. john josephine says:

          Godaddy ripped me off with treatingaddiction.com. I paid to use backorder 8 years ago and this week it expired. Godaddy told me on the phone that there will be a auction with any other back orders on it. Godaddy told me they would get a hold of me if there is a auction with other backorders on that domain and if no other backorders the domain would be mine. Godaddy told me to wait and do nothing they will get back with me. A week later they emailed saying they couldnt win the domain for me. they are crooks. Dropcatch is auctioning the domain with phony bidders now. The FBI needs to look into this. Ill be contacting them because I am a good friend of a agent in Chicago. This is criminal.

      2. john josephine says:

        Michael email me before I call the FBI ok.

        1. I registered toeban.com. I was not interested in the domain any longer. I got a new domain name. However, I noticed they violently took the domain from my account within the grace period. They CAN NOT do that. Then one day it came back to my account but right after I added it the shopping bag they took it away again. Considering all these claims I will also call the FBI and file a law suit, considering they have the domain for sale as a PREMIUM domain.

          I do not understand how could anyone advocate for this company…

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