Govern yourselves accordingly

I just received the following email:

Attention Mr. Forret,

It has been brought to our attention that you published or caused to be published an e-mail communication and/or internet bulletin containing words that are false, misleading and defamatory to our firm. More specifically, these publications can be found at:

blog.forret.com/2004/12/domain-registry-of-america-scam/

More specifically your statement “Domain Registry of America scam”. That statement is false and misleading in many ways:
1) The title of the publication accuses Domain Registry of America as being involved or perpetrating some type of scam, which his false.
2) Domain Registry of America’s mailings do not “urge” or “scare” anyone to take any action towards the mailing. It informs domain name holders that they now have the option to “transfer and renew” their domain name with any Registrar of their choice and take advantage of lower pricing and better service.
3) Your use of the phrase “it’s a scam”
4) Unaware to you, this mailing has been approved by the Federal Trade Commission as clearly describing it meaning and purpose. (PF: Actually they’ve done quite the opposite)

Your publication has caused and continues to cause Domain Registry of America irreparable damages and we intend to hold you responsible for these damages both past and present. You are hereby notified that we demand these false, misleading and defamatory statements mentioned above that you have published or have caused to be published be removed by no later than 15 days of your receipt of this notice.

If we do not receive written notification that these publications have been removed by the above deadline we will without further warning, advise our lawyers to commence a lawsuit in an Ontario court for damages and a permanent and interlocutory injunction restraining you, your employees, agents and representatives from making and publishing such publications. Domain Registry of America/Canada has successfully taken legal action in the past against other publishers of similar false, misleading and defamatory statements.

Govern yourselves accordingly,

Domain Registry of America/Canada
Relations Department
legal@droa.com


Domain Registry of America scam
Small recap: DROA sends letters to owners of domain names urging them to renew their domain names with them. The letter looks like a bill that has to be paid. If someone falls for it, his or her domain names are transferred to and invoiced by the DROA. It is true, they include a notice in small print ‘This is not a bill’, but it is a scam nevertheless: they try to trick people. And so now they send me a cease-and-desist.

As I researched earlier, the founders of the company, Daniel Klemann, James Tetaka and Peter Kuryliw (all from Toronto, Canada) spend a lot of time in courtrooms. The person who sent me the letter, Alan Benlolo, is apparently member of the same club:

  • The defendants – Michael Risman (“Risman”), Alan Benlolo (“Benlolo”), Stephen Dale (“Dale”), and Lenny Nacher (“Nacher”) – approached the victimized investors and claimed to represent an investor who was prepared to purchase the shares at a substantial premium, but insisted that the proposed seller first post a “deposit” to insure the closing of the transaction. 1999
  • “He had been indicted and charged in Pennsylvania for his participation in the fraudulent telemarketing scheme involving the sale of indium. He pleaded guilty and was incarcerated for 18 months 2003
  • Investigators dubbed the stock-swindle case Project Opulence–a fitting title since Alan Benlolo, 36, and his 38-year-old brother Elliot lived so lavishly off the proceeds of their scams 2004.
  • The individuals (Alan Benlolo, Elliot Benlolo, Simon Benlolo, Victor Serfaty) sent out mail pieces that falsely appeared to be bills or invoices from Bell Canada or Yellow Pages, when in fact they were solicitations to have the recipients’ business details appear in Internet-based directories operating under the names Yellow Business Pages.com and Yellow Business Directory.com. Between May and December 2000, they sent the mail pieces to approximately 900,000 businesses and non-profit organizations in Canada and generated sales of over $1 million.2004

29 thoughts on “Govern yourselves accordingly”

  1. Haha! Good work, Peter! I will immediately put a link to your article on my blog too. Outrageous how they try to blackmail you with lawsuits. You, as a “victim” or at least target of their scam should sue them, or repport their practice somewhere.

  2. If DROA really wanted people to know their “letter” is not a bill they would put it in BIG RED letter across it and not in the 4th line of some “technical talk”.

    Domain Registry of America/Canada are scammers of the worst kind.

  3. I know all three from High School. In fact I knew Sy quite well (partied with him numerous times) Alan had a personal liscence plate in High School, “SCAMR” go figure. Ever hear of the yogurt company Yogen Fruz?? Thats Elliot…..

  4. Very well put, Sir!

    It’s thanks to you that i managed to persuade my director that DROA are in fact a fraudulent company before he replied to them with his credit card details to renew the domain.

    DROA = Bunch of idiots who will no doubt one day, be disbanded!

  5. I am dating a gentleman named Alan Benlolo… works for a plastics company… please tell me this isn’t him…

  6. Just got “the letter” and googling got me to your blog.

    Good work. Can you give an update, please? Any new developments?

    The letter pisses me off. Clearly the intent is to scam. It took me fully 10 seconds to see the game being played. I’m not worried for myself, but a percentage of people who have little or no background with the web will fall for their bullshit, so by spamming with a wide net they’re sure to ensnare enough people to support their lifestyles. And what lowlifes they are.

    Did you research what, if anything, can be done about these scumsuckers? I’d LOVE to have the time to pursue jerks like these, but I don’t. I so hope that it will end very badly for them.

    Thanks again for your work.

  7. Some of that inf.is not acurate he usually testifies againts people he does scams with put the blame on them .He didn`t do 18 month in Pennsylvania .They released him after 5 months when he lied ,and ratted everybody .1st class scum I knew him very well.Believe me I regret the day I met him.

  8. I forgot to add that when I posted back my form with no payment etc I add’d the letters “F/U” and “F/U Scammers”, so they should get the message if they don’t then they will get the same message over and over again.

    Oh and a bill for postage as well:)

    Mike D

  9. The DROA is at it again, this time with more associated partners in their legal disclaimer, and worse, operating under a new company name: Domain Renewal Group

    They’re continuing to send snailmail spam which attempt to trick recipients into renewing their soon-to-be-expires domains with them instead of their current registrar.

    The registration agreement on the back of the letter states:

    “DOMAIN RENEWAL GROUP (DRG), http://www.drg.com”
    “We, us, and our refer to eNom, Inc., Wild West Domains, Inc., BRANDON GRAY INTERNET SERVICES INC. (dba NameJuice.com) and DRG”

    The address of their operations? Same office as DROA:

    2316 Delaware Avenue #266
    Buffalo, New York, 14216-2687

    This is one of the biggest problems with capitalism in the United States. Legal rulings are often done against *companies* and not individuals, which lets said individual start a “new company” (even out of the same office) and continue the exact same scam operation under a different name. This can go on for literally a lifetime, or until someone takes the individual to court and gets an injunction upon them.

    Moral of the story: this bullshit isn’t going to stop until ICANN gets *even more* involved, or someone brings the issue to the attention of a large firm who wishes to take the case on pro-bono.

  10. P.S. — To further indicate this company is running under the same tactics as before, the domain they use ***in their own registration agreement*** isn’t even affiliated with them! They claim their site is drg.com (rear of letter, near very bottom) but that simply isn’t true — drg.com goes to a completely unrelated company that has nothing to do with domains (they are, however, a marketing firm).

    The Domain Renewal Group’s actual domain is domainrenewalgroup.com.

    So, this just goes to show how much time they spend on their own disclaimers: they don’t own or have anything to do with drg.com, yet it’s in their disclaimer?

    I’m surprised drg.com doesn’t sue them for false association. It would be worth pointing this out to the real drg.com folks, because I’m sure a marketing firm has a nice big legal firm to back them up. 😉

  11. Just got the “courtesy” letter today. Courtesy my arse…

    So, the “Domain renewal group” (www.domainrenewalgroup.com) is asking me to renew my domain name with them, 6 months before expiry. How kind. They also have a telephone number in their letterhead: 1-905-479-2533 (24 hours a day!).

    So… why is this screaming “SCAM” in large, bold, blinking letters?
    * They are scaring people into renewing their domain with DRG (see text below).
    * Letter was printed on Letter-sized paper (hint, we use A4 in Britain, anything else looks odd)
    * Letter was sent from Jamaica, NY (oh yeah!)
    * Reply address is in the UK (56 Glouster Rd, Suite 526, London SW7 4UB)
    * Shitty service and outrageous rates (best competitive offer, hey?)
    * What irks me the most: We REQUEST that you reply by September 12th…

    I hope these bastards get done for scamming.

    Text reproduced here:

    As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification of the domain name registration that is due to expire in a few months. When you switch today to the Domain Renewal Group, you can take advantage of our best savings. Your registration for XXXX.org will expire on March XX,2009. Act today!

    Domain name: XXXX.org
    Reply Requested by: September 12, 2008

    You must renew your domain name to retain exclusive rights to it on the Web, and now is the time to transfer and renew your name from your current Registrar to the Domain Renewal Group. Failure to renew your domain by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web.
    Privatization of Domain Registrations and Renewals now allows the consumer the choice of Registrars when initially registering and also when renewing a domain name. Domain name holders are not obligated to renew their domain name with their current Registrar or with the Domain Renewal Group. Review our prices and decide for yourself. You are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated below, unless you accept this offer. This notice is not a bill, it is rather an easy means of payment should you decide to switch your domain name registration to the Domain Renewal Group.

    Terms: 1 year £20. 2 years (Recommended) £35 (save £5). 5 years (Best Value) £65 (save £35).

    The following names are currently available for you to register and secure, protecting your domain name from being duplicated. XXXX.com XXXX.net (2 years, £35)

    Registration of the above domain names include DNS, URL and Email Forwarding to a website and mailbox you designate.

    Transfer and renew your domain name online at http://www.domainrenewalgroup.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or call our Customer Service Department at +1 905 479 2533 to transfer and renew your domain name today.

  12. I just got two of these scam letters this week. I remember this from years ago and I can’t believe they’re still getting away with it.

    Every letter they sent me will get sent straight back without a stamp. 🙂

  13. I too have been gettin pummled with these rediculous emails. I assumed it was a scam. Thanks for putting this out there for all of us to see.

  14. One of our clients at my marketing co got roped in by them, now I’ve been assigned the task of wresting the domain back out of DROA’s hands. Does anyone have any tips on how to do this? I spoke with one of them on the phone and it was clear he was a douchebag and the whole thing is going to be hell to deal with.

  15. If you think their registry service is a scam. Try their support group! I have a client using them and I can tell you that they are fantastically incompetent, lazy, and insulting. I have been designing websites for years and writing software since 1983 and I was literally told that I was “incompetent” 3 times in a 15 min. phone call to these idiots. The ultimate irony came when it became obvious to them beyond any doubt that the problem was in their server configuration…They hung up on me!! Let me repeat… the DROA technical support group hung up on me.

    There are probably a million registration and hosting companies on this planet. STAY CLEAR OF THESE PEOPLE, you’ll be happier for it.

    As for me, I have thankfully conviced my client to let me move the site to another hosting company. We’ll deal with moving the domain name later.

  16. You failed to mention that the price that DRoA charges is three times the going rate (at least). Therein lies their profit. There is a sucker born every minute. That’s their stock and trade. Buyer beware.

  17. Another massive hole in their scam is when they send me two letters for two of my domains with the same name but different TLDs. Each letter listed the domain I was being “notified” about in the other letter as “Available.”

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