Threats, Cybercrime

Hacker charged with domain name theft

August 4, 2009

A New Jersey hacker has been arrested after he broke into a site owner's account, transferred the domain name ownership to himself, and then sold it to an NBA player.

The domain name, P2P.com, was sold in 2006 for $111,000 to Los Angeles Clippers forward Mark Madsen on eBay. The Cyber Crimes Unit of the New Jersey State Police on Thursday charged Donald Gonclaves, 25, with theft by unlawful taking, identity theft and computer theft, according to a news release.

Police estimated the value of the domain name, considering the popularity of file sharing, to be between $160,000 and $200,000 at the time of the theft.

Gonclaves hacked in to the original site owner's email account to get the login details for P2P.com, which is hosted by GoDaddy.com, according a report in Domain Name News. He then transferred the domain name to another GoDaddy.com account that he owned, while fraudulently doctoring paperwork that he had actually completed a legitimate sale with the owners.

Madsen, who did not know P2P.com was stolen when he bought it, retains the domain name and claims to be a “good faith” purchaser, according to the report. P2P.com currently contains links to sites hawking loans and file-sharing programs.

The owners privately investigated the matter, beginning in May 2007, and, after determining the suspect lived in New Jersey, turned the investigation over to State Police late last year, authorities said.

Gonclaves was freed after posting $60,000 in bail, but faces 60 years in prison if convicted.

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