About an expired domain, a fake blog and domain squatting
I learned recently that a few months ago a Pakistani domain squatter acquired my old expired domain name alexbrie.com. I had failed to renew it on time sometime in 2017 when I was in a bad place emotionally, and I didn’t think too much of it.
But losing a domain name is nothing new or interesting, right?
Problem is that, since I wouldn’t pay thousands of USD to re-purchase the domain, the cybersquatter (let’s call him Kashif, since that’s what whois calls him) put up a fake blog on the domain. And this fake blog is doing its worst to appear genuine and look like it’s still written by me: i.e. using my name for the title and a developer-inspired motto, even republishing 5 of my OWN old posts (copied from the Internet Archive) in order to fake legitimacy.
Registrant Name: kashif tahir
Registrant City: Lahore
Registrant State/Province: PUNJAB
Registrant Postal Code: 54000
Registrant Country: PK
(I deleted the phone and email of the guy because, guess what, it seems that he’s filed a request to Google to de-index this post on account of personal information sharing – oh, the irony)
Why would one/anyone do such a thing?
I initially thought this was ment as identity theft or for extortion. The truth is, apparently, way simpler.
Apparently there’s a lot of money to be gained from a PageRank 3 or 4 website with inbound links from multiple quality websites. After buying the site on auction from domain resellers for around $500, Kashif claims to have tripled the money in sales of paid links and posts – SEO and “Internet Marketing”. He’s getting paid to post spam content on the site, which because of the apparent legitimacy of my old alexbrie.com domain results in better google search positioning. The articles being posted range from palm reading to passing drug tests and other similar trash from the bottom of the dark internet.
At this point you might be tempted to visit that website. Please don’t, this would only give him extra traffic and incentive to continue the practice with other targets as well; just trust me on this. Just remember that the alexbrie.com blog is currently a fake blog with spam content created by a cybersquater.
What I managed to to:
- I contacted the guy and asked him to for stop pretending to be me, and to remove the content copied from me and my name from the site. He promised to comply but, unsurprisingly, he didn’t – instead he added even more shitty posts on the site.
- I sent DMCA complaints to Google to remove the 5 blog posts that were republished illegally, from the google search results. They were nice enough to do so.
- I sent DMCA takedown complaints to AWS (where the site is hosted) and eventually they enforced the removal of my original posts from the actual site.
- I offered to repurchase the site for a 2-digit price. Unsuccesfully.
- …I wrote this post. If anyone accidentally visits that website and gets the wrong idea about me or my interests, hopefully this post will undo the damage. If not… well that’s life. If I won’t be able to get the domain back, I will probably survive.
And maybe next time Kashif has a personal problem (health, bad luck or other mishap) he’ll stop and ponder a bit on how things come around. Call it Karma, divine justice, or bad juju – I’ve seen it plenty of times: people who do bad to others end up with more problems in their own lives, even if they rarely understand that things are related. Yep, Kashif – holding my domain name hostage and using it to impersonate me and post shit for a quick buck is a bad thing. You’re probably too young and hungry to understand this, but one day you might.