Over the years hundreds of stories of domain name theft have been reported, most famous among them of course is the theft of Sex.com. Even as recent as last week, reports of stolen domains sent a chilling reminder through the domain industry as valuable domains Before.com, Adios.com and others were stolen from Warren Weitzman. Until recently, there hasn’t been a case of a domain theft where the thief was caught and arrested. However, on July 30th, Daniel Goncalves was arrested at his home in Union, New Jersey and charged in a landmark case, the first criminal arrest for domain name theft in the United States.
In a similar fashion to the Sex.com theft, the events that led to Goncalves arrest involve a long back story, one that spans well over 2 years, and many players. Although insiders familiar with this case contend that Goncalves has stolen other valuable domains, this case centers on the theft and subsequent sale of the domain name P2P.com.
In 2005, internet entrepreneur and domain name investor Marc Ostrofsky and attorney Albert Angel along with his wife Lesli Angel partnered to purchase the domain name P2P.com for $160,000 from a Wisconsin company, Port to Print Inc. The domain industry was heating up in 2005, as was the emerging peer to peer music business and the co-owners of the domain name saw a great deal of potential with this investment and future development of the domain.
Ostrofsky is a well known investor in the domain space. His name was etched in domain name history with his 1999 sale of Business.com for $7.5 million and the multi-million dollar domain holding company,IREIT, that he helped form with investment backing from Howard Schulz and Ross Perot. Albert Angel is an attorney and former Justice Department prosecutor with a background in internet payment processing. Angel and Ostrofsky have known each other for over 25 years and have done business together in other ventures.
The Angels had already invested in a small portfolio of domain names including profreedom.com and drugoverdose.com (2 more domains reportedly stolen by Goncalves). As a nurse who dealt with teen drug abuse issues, Lesli Angel became interested in buying and building sites on domains in the late 90’s. Domains such as drugoverdose.com gave her a means to reach out to some of the same audience that she was already helping as a nurse. As the domain space heated up, Angel continued buying domains and built up a portfolio of around 800 domain names.