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Finally, domain-slamming registrar gets ICANN breach notice

Kevin Murphy, December 17, 2013, 10:27:44 (UTC), Domain Registrars

Domain “slamming” registrar Brandon Gray Internet Services, which does business as NameJuice.com, has finally received its first ICANN compliance notice.

If you’ve been around the industry for a while you’ll know Brandon Gray better as Domain Registry of America, Domain Registry of Canada, Domain Renewal Group and various other pseudonyms.

DROADROA is known for being the prime perpetrator of the old “slamming” scam, where fake postal renewal notices that look like invoices trick busy or gullible registrants into transferring their names.

It was sued for slamming by Register.com back in 2002, spanked by the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency as recently as 2009, and de-accredited by .ca registry CIRA.

There’s a list of the various times it’s run afoul of regulators over on Wikipedia.

ICANN yesterday sent a breach notice (pdf) to Brandon Gray, saying the company failed to “maintain and make available to ICANN registration records relating to dealings with the Registered Name Holder” of businesspotion.com, in violation of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

A Whois look-up reveals that businesspotion.com has belonged to the same registrant since 2009. However, in April 2011 it was transferred from 1&1 to Brandon Gray (DROA/NameJuice).

I can only guess why it might have been transferred.

However, the material ICANN wants only relates to the period from July this year.

It appears from the compliance notice that the owner of the domain tried to transfer his name away from DROA recently but claims to have not received the necessary authorization codes.

Brandon Gray has until January 13 to provide ICANN with the requested documentation or face losing its accreditation.

Back in 2011, the last time Brandon Gray tried to slam me, I asked: “Isn’t it about time ICANN shut these muppets down?”

Hopefully, that wish is a step closer to reality today.

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Comments (8)

  1. They were the second company listed in the HallofShame.com “Scammer” Section.

  2. Hmmm. What if:

    – we solicit a pool of volunteers who have gotten slam-notices for domain names they can tolerate some uncertainty over (I have several — projects I’ve never gotten around to, and probably never will).

    – the volunteers allow those names to be slammed on a fairly regular but random schedule

    – they then try to get them back to their original registrar

    – they file complaints when Brandon Gray doesn’t cooperate

    I’m probably too well known — Brandon Gray would quickly spot me if I did this. But there are lots of people out there who get these slamming gizmos pretty regularly.

    Maybe that’s just a habit we encourage in people. Got a slam notice for a name that you’re not using at the moment? Contribute to the cause by throwing a spanner in the works.

    Might need a good lawyer to sharpen this up a bit so volunteers don’t get harassed by BG. 🙂

    On a more serious note — the GNSO has been looking at this for years. I *think* it was IRTP-B where we first formalized this issue and realized that ICANN doesn’t really provide Compliance the policy tools they need in order to shut these folks down. The issue is still on the Council “open items” list although I confess not to know current status. I’ll ask.

    I’d be interested in getting a sense from the comments as to how hot this topic is for people. I’ve always wanted to go after these guys, as have most of the Registrar folks I know. But it’s tricky. It may be better to follow the .CA model and chop them off at the Registry, for example. Any Verisign folks interested in taking a look at this?

  3. Bob Mtn - Afternic says:

    Great idea Mikey! This practice is not good for our industry and kudos to you for a very effective guerilla solution.

  4. Ross Rader says:

    I grew tired of telling this story to anyone who would listen at ICANN – I haven’t checked my facts recently and they may have changed – details are current as of a few years ago. YMMV, so please do your own due diligence.

    At last check and at the time they filed for their accreditation, they had convicted criminals serving as directors. At the time of their accreditation, they had to certify that none of their directors were convicted criminals.

    I would have guessed that checking these facts and revoking BG’s accreditation on the basis that they *lied on their application* would have been a slam dunk. In at least 10 years, ICANN never did a thing to investigate the inconsistencies I pointed out.

    They may have changed out their ownership or directors since the last time I checked in, and again, these details were current as of when BG applied for their accreditation.

    ICANN has plenty of tools to shut these guys down and chose to do nothing about it.

  5. Barry Shein says:

    There is only a very fine line between a sting operation and entrapment.

    If you have evidence, use it. If not then you risk being sucked into a witch hunt, or can’t distinguish what you’re doing from one.

    Put another way, if one feels the urge to manufacture evidence it’s a good moment to take ten deep breaths and ask themselves “why?”

    Is it lack of actual evidence? Lack of faith in the system in which case why would manufacturing some more evidence help? etc.

  6. Michele says:

    I’ve had piles of their stupid letters ..

    And of course we’ve had plenty of clients who have been sent them – some have even been duped..

    @Mikey – there was some discussion about it in the GNSO going back a couple of years and I think Mason Cole was taking point from the RrSG at the time.
    The GNSO and ccNSO had a joint meeting (in Dakar?) where this topic was raised, as there’s also the “charming” MO of other “actors” to frighten people into registering lots of obscure ccTLDs .. Unfortunately since no domains are actually registered (most of the time) there wasn’t much that the ccNSO could do with it.
    Under the 2013 RAA there is a clause which *might* help deal with this kind of activity – the bit about false advertising or misleading advertising (or words to that effect – I don’t have the text in front of me at the moment)

    Michele

  7. James says:

    We tried inserting something specific in to the 2013 RAA (section 3.7, Business Dealings), about not “mis-representing” that a registrar was the sponsor of a domain name that it did not manage at the registry level. I don’t recall the exact language, but it didn’t make the final cut.

  8. James says:

    Also, this incident is probably unrelated to DNRA’s slamming practices. Unfortunately, I doubt it goes much further….

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