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Rogue registrar suspended over “stolen” domain

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2012, Domain Registrars

ICANN has told Turkish domain name registrar Alantron that its accreditation will be suspended for a month due to its shoddy record-keeping.

The suspension, which will become effective March 8, follows an investigation into allegations of double-selling.

ICANN issued the suspension last Thursday after trying unsuccessfully for almost three months to get its hands on Alantron’s registration records.

The company now has until March 28 to sort out its compliance problems or face losing its accreditation entirely.

I understand the investigation was prompted by complaints filed by an American named Roger Rainwater over the potentially valuable domain name pricewire.com.

Pricewire.com spent a couple of years under Whois privacy but was grabbed last August by Turkish registrant Altan Tanriverdi, according to historical Whois records.

Rainwater, who says he had been monitoring it for three or four years, subsequently paid Tanriverdi an undisclosed sum for the domain, signing up for an Alantron account so it could be pushed.

Rainwater showed up in the Whois for pricewire.com on September 7 last year. But he says he was unable to change his name servers and 48 hours later the name disappeared from his account.

He says he was told by Alantron that it had put the domain in Tanriverdi’s account “by mistake” and that it was sold to SnapNames as part of a batch of dropping domains.

According to emails sent to Rainwater, seen by DI, Alantron said that pricewire.com was “registered via a partner company called Directi for a company called Snapnames”.

SnapNames had already auctioned the name – apparently there were more than 40 bidders – and the name has since been transferred to one Sammy Katz of Philadelphia.

However, given that Whois reliability is at question here, it’s not entirely clear who owns it. It’s currently parked at InternetTraffic.com.

Tanriverdi, who appears to be equally aggrieved, has published an extensive history of the dispute, along with screenshots, here (in Turkish).

In short: Alantron stands accused of double-selling pricewire.com.

ICANN’s compliance team has been unable to get its hands on the underlying transaction data despite repeated attempts because Alantron apparently doesn’t have it.

Its suspension notice alleges that Alantron was running two registration systems in parallel and that they weren’t talking to each other, resulting in the same name being sold to two parties.

Read ICANN’s suspension notice in PDF format here.

Registrar threatened with shutdown for failing to reveal registrant

Kevin Murphy, November 9, 2011, Domain Registrars

ICANN has told a Turkish domain name registrar that its accreditation will be terminated unless it fixes its apparently shoddy Whois services.

While Alantron has a track record of Whois failures and connections to abusive domains, ICANN’s threat appears to have been made in connection with a single domain name.

ICANN compliance director Stacey Burnette wrote to Alantron (pdf):

On 12 October 2011, ICANN requested that Alantron make registration records available to ICANN concerning a specific domain name, as ICANN received a complaint that there was no Whois output available for the domain name. Although numerous requests were made by ICANN to make the registration records available for inspection and copying, as of the date of this letter, Alantron has not made any arrangements to comply with ICANN’s request.

The letter also details Alantron’s alleged failures to make Whois available through Port 43 and its web interface going back to September 1.

ICANN has also threatened to suspend Alantron’s ability to create new registrations. Alantron received a similar de-accreditation warning for Whois failures in April 2010.

It does not say who made the complaint or which domain is in question, but the company has come under fire from security pros in the past for allowing its services to be abused to push fake pharmaceuticals.

Alantron, which has about 26,000 domains under management according to Webhosting.info, has until November 25 to rectify the problem.