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Accused of Site Theft **HELP PLEASE**

Discussion in 'Site Flipping' started by wwallace1, Sep 9, 2013.

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  1. wwallace1

    wwallace1 Regular Member

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    Guys, I need some help please!! someone is threatening "legal remedy" because he said that the domain I bought for over $17k was stolen from him.


    Background:


    A seller on flippa listed a domain for sale.


    I contacted the seller privately and he agreed to sell me the domain over a 3 month payment plan. Over the 3 months, I paid him the amount owed and after payment the domain was transferred to me via his account on Godaddy. The initial 1st payment and the last payment was done through Escrow while the 2nd payment was done through a bank transfer outside of escrow. And I have the records from escrow of those 2 payments, and also the 2nd payment through bank transfer.




    After 1st Payment:


    After the 1st payment, I received the HTML files of the site and it was transferred to my host by the owner.


    After final payment:


    After the 3rd month and the final payment, the domain's ownership was transferred to my godaddy account.


    Work done on site:


    After the domain and site was received, I re-designed the site, added many articles and also performed some SEO to increase the site's traffic. I spent tons of time in this site because it was a big investment for me.


    Issue:


    I just recently received an email from a different person saying this domain was allegedly stolen from him and he demanded that I pay him the fees owed on the domain or that I transfer the domain to him. He then asked me the lawyer I was working with you (since my site sells leads to lawyers) and I said I wouldn't do that. He replied that the lawyer and the previous owner was in some kind of coverup that stole this domain from him.

    He said that the whois is fake, with a fake name, number and address. But it had the name of the guy I sent $17k to.

    He said that the fake name, number, address on the whois "is one of the many examples of attempted coverup and secrecy I've encountered with the operation of this website since it has been stolen from me."

    I don't understand this. I sent money to the person who's name was on the whois registry. This person also pushed the domain to me on his godaddy account.

    My Case:


    1. The person that I bought the domain from initially listed it on flippa. To sell the domain on flippa, the site's owner must be verified. This verification is done through 2 options:


    a. Verified ownership via file upload
    b. Verified ownership via meta tags.


    Therefore the site owner was verified by flippa. However, since I bought the site outside of flippa through private transaction flippa cannot be involved. But, the site was verified to be the owner's since the owner put the site up for sale on flippa.


    2. Doing research on the person who said his domain was stolen shows that his name is the owner on other domains. But the whois.com of the domain that I purchased matches the name of the person who I have sent payments to.


    I have spent a lot of money, time and energy into this site and do not want this taken away from me. Therefore, I need some advice please!!
     
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  2. Alpha.

    Alpha. Power Member

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    Just relax...

    It's your site now... Just ignore him! I receive various legal threats every month... but they nearly never follow up on them. It's a hoax or scam 99.9% of the time
     
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  3. wwallace1

    wwallace1 Regular Member

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    I sent him proof of the 17k sent but he is still threatening legal remedy. The thing is, on the disclaimer page I bought it mentioned that this site was part of the "[name hidden] Group." This guy is from that "[name hidden] Group."

    The thing is, when I googled his email address and the "[name hidden] Group." i found similar domains that he owned. Except the whois shows that the domain belongs to the guy's name and the "[name hidden] Group."

    So I think he has some basis but when i bought the domain, it was not under this "[name hidden] Group." but of the name of whom I sent the money too...

    God this is stressing :(

    I don't think this is a hoax or scam, he really has followed up on all my emails... :(
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  4. bryanon

    bryanon Executive VIP Premium Member

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    It's not really as simple. If you buy a stolen iPhone from someone on the street and the police traces it and finds it then the phone will be confiscated and returned to its truthful owner despite the fact that you were acting in good faith. All you can do there try to recoup your losses from the person who sold you the phone, which obviously in most cases proves impossible. When it comes to domain names, the situation is not as simple but often similar. A lot also depends on how litigious the previous owner is and what jurisdiction are you all in.

    OP - if I were you I'd speak to a knowledgeable solicitor (i.e. one who has experience in similar cases involving domains) sooner rather than later and clarify the situation with them as if the alleged previous owner of the domain does decide to take legal action against you then you want to be prepared.
     
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  5. larkmud

    larkmud Junior Member

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    and you think if the whois and payment name match you think is his name real?

    someone who does this kind of scams has to know this kind of things
     
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  6. Liaata

    Liaata Regular Member

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    I am no lawyer, but I think you are fine is most cases.

    1. You had more than 1 reason to believe you are buying the domain from the real owner
    2. There is no proof that the 2nd guy is the real owner
    3. Depending on your and their location, it will be very hard to put you to court

    If I was you I'd keep calm and shut down the communication
     
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  7. wwallace1

    wwallace1 Regular Member

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    I'm pretty sure that the guy will get an attorney to figure this out. Thing is, I'm not in the USA and the alleged owner is in the US.

    So I told him twice already if he is going to pursue a lawsuit and in the case he loses, I will then sue him for lossses related to litigation expenses, time lost (I run my own business), paper work, flights to the US and more. Which is going to be tons of money.

    But he still insists that I pay him money owed to him or to give him back the domain.

    This pisses me off so bad. I paid so much money for the domain and site files, only to have someone say that it was stolen. There has been atleast...4-5 months that has gone by since I bought the domain and redid the design and everything. And for something like to this to come up is really...pissing me off -.-
     
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  8. umerjutt00

    umerjutt00 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    How much money is he asking for??? and ask him to show proofs that it was his domain. There is a tool domaintools.com which shows the old owners of the domains too. Maybe this will help you.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  9. Freeopkiller

    Freeopkiller Junior Member

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    Does he have any legal proof of this ?

    Don't deal with him, your probably feeding him more information to try using against you by continuing the conversation.. I too used to get a lot of cease order threats and letters, I just followed them up with a big FU. never hear from them again..

    You have your proof of purchase, transfers, 3rd parties who did escrow/transfers.. Screw him. You have an investment and should talk to a lawyer to be safe.. But I would tell him to F.O.

    I would also start searching for his name, company and email address he's using. See what you can dig up. I would also request his Phone and Mailing address so your legal department could " Send him some documentation on the matter." See if he gives it up or pusses out... Check the address in maps, see if its a tent in West Africa next to a pay phone... But I would STOP giving or explaining ANYTHING to him. He could be fishing, just nibbling bite by bite on the information your inadvertently giving up..

    Regardless of what advise you get, in the end, talk to your lawyer...
    Good Luck..
     
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  10. the_demon

    the_demon Jr. Executive VIP

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    Do not give up the domain without first consulting with an attorney. You shouldn't have even responded to the emails that guy sent you without first contacting an attorney. A cross borders suit is very expensive and depending how your country treats US laws he may not even be able to do anything about it at all.

    Because you did not buy the domain in bad faith or have any knowledge of receiving stolen goods the likely hood of him being able to recover the domain from you is slim. You may however want to move the domain to an offshore registrar which would probably make it harder for him to recover from you by pushing over a registrar. Once again, you really should consult an attorney before taking any action including the aforementioned steps.
     
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  11. Goal Line Technology

    Goal Line Technology Senior Member

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    OP
    None of us here are legally qualified to give you 100% advice,
    however, there is an aspect of law, which states that everything must be done
    not just to the letter of the law, BUT ALSO in the spirit of the law.

    Either A, the person does indeed have claim of title....
    As far as I can see, you were acting in good faith, paid and delivered for digital goods.

    Therefore, I am almost certain that you have ownership, and that the other party -
    whomesoever they may be - have no legal remedy against you.

    Now, that is not to say that they may still claim ownership etc.... but crucially since you have done nothing illegal,
    then they have to fight to get everything back, but they need to take legal action against the 3rd party, not you.

    If that were to happen, and it turns out that you have recieved stolen goods, (knowingly or otherwise)
    they could well try to get everything back, so stand ready for such an occurence.

    HOWEVER, as an innocent party YOU ALSO have grounds for legal equity, and therefore if it transpires
    that you have to relent on it, then so be it, BUT you also have legal redress by way of compensation,
    not only to recoup all your money you have spent on the purchase, but also for the time and stress it has caused you,
    and additionally you need to be compensated for any additional effort and work you have put into the development of the site.

    Do not give up easily.

    or
    B.... the entire situation is a scam attempt.
    ... in which case, a strongly worded letter from your legal team should be able to
    sort out the wheat from the chaff i.e. the truth from the BS.

    At an expenditure of ~$17K, I would imagine you have the funds to buy these necessary legal opinion,
    so just do it, the reward outweighs the potential risks in this case.

    In any case, rest assured that you SHOULD be able to claim back your monies, and
    get compensation for your efforts. Advise them that you have already taken legal advice, and
    that any further claim from them will result in a legal battle, with which you defend vigoursly
    and that you will seek compensation from them for hassle etc... involved in any potential dispute.
    In addition, tell them that you will view any futher action by them as harrassment, and that you will seek redress on that also.

    The action outlined above will soon scare them off if they are scammers,
    and if in fact it is real, then you also have some sort of legal battle ahead of you,
    but you should also get full compensation as described above.

    Good Luck and please let us know how it goes.

    Cheers
     
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  12. Duffers5000

    Duffers5000 Elite Member

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    Get speaking to a solicitor asap. Preferably someone with experience in this field.

    I am never blase about legal threats but heres my experience from 20 years in business and receiving them regularly. People that are going to take action against you will just go ahead and do that. The ones that get involved in a discussion are usually bluffers who disssapear as soon as they receive a "without Prejudice" statement that I await their action.

    As I say, take it serious..see a solicitor but my feeling is this is crap.
     
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  13. wwallace1

    wwallace1 Regular Member

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    I didn't even bother asking him how much money is owed to him because I didn't buy the domain from him, I bought it from someone else.

    Thanks about the domaintools, but looks like I have to pay some $ for an account

    He still hasn't showed me any proof besides giving me his full name, phone number and the group he represents. He showed me a screenshot of the old whois.com information with some unrelated email address (not his or his companies) so I googled the email address and nothing came up.

    I googled this guy's email address and his "[name deleted] group" and I found a different domain in a different niche registered to this guy but other than that, nothing else.

    thanks for the advise. Any recommendations on an offshore registrar? the domain is on godaddy and hosted by bluehost...
     
  14. saber210

    saber210 Supreme Member

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    You can try the domaintools 7 days free trial and then cancel it.

    See the previous domain owners of your domain.
     
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  15. Mugiwara

    Mugiwara Newbie

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    i think you need small time zen, if you bought website in legal manner, u nothing be worried for, thats so kind, thanks:)
     
  16. Conor

    Conor Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    OP, I'm pretty sure whois.net also shows previous domain info for free. Try it out. Good luck with the domain too, this guy sounds like a serious douchebag.
     
  17. tas26

    tas26 Power Member

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    OP u should consult a legal adviser for sure.

    why do i think this new guy was the first owner of the site, the seller is second owner and u are the third. I think he is trying to rob you to make some money out of you too. just my thinking.
     
  18. mirajkadam

    mirajkadam Regular Member

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    Contact flippa
     
  19. binaryking

    binaryking Regular Member

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    OP, sell the site using fake name and forgot about it. Drop all the hassle and move on.
     
  20. soooted

    soooted Registered Member

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    If he was part owner of the domain, or partner in a business that owned the domain, then his lawsuit should be against the person who sold it to you. If he sues you, you would just sue the person who sold it to you. Either the guy threatening now or the one who sold it to you will lose and one or both of them will cover your legal fees.

    You can't countersue for time lost, mentail anguish, etc. unless you can prove malicious prosecution (i.e. he knew he had no case he's suing you out of spite or because he think he can force you to pay when he has no claim). Malicious prosecution is very difficult to prove, so usually you end up just getting your own legal bills paid. Even then, the court has a formula and what your lawyer asks for legal fees is not always fully compensated, and that's IF it goes to trial. If the case is settled before trial, lawyer fees, if any, will be part of the settlement.

    This is just a general guideline, and IAMNAL but have been involved in many lawsuits for my day job, there are very, very, very few civil lawsuits where the plaintiff is in the US and the defendant is outside the US for amounts under $50k. The cost of litigation is at least that it rarely happens. Also note that if he files suit against you, and you reside outside the US, he has to file suit in YOUR country, not in the US. So you wouldn't be the one flying to the US for depositions and trials and what not... the legal action would occur in your country. Depending on your country, he might not even have standing and couldn't sue you anyways.

    For a case like this the only reasonable way we could sue you would be if you are conducting business in the US and have setup a US entity. He could sue that business entity.

    He could sue an attempt to take by the domain as well, which probably is your biggest risk. If that ever happened, then you could sue the original seller for not just the $17k but also for time lost, etc.
     
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