It seems my contacts with the people from Domain Registry of America (DROA) have gone one legal step up. Last week I have received an official letter from a Brussels law office, representing the Domain Registry of America – DROA (Buffalo, NY, USA), Domain Registry of Canada – DROC (Markham, Ontario, Canada), Domain Renewal Group (London UK) and Mr Alan Benlolo. Apparently my claims about the “domain renewal scam”, as most legit domain registrars and thousands of fooled users call it, are “completely unfunded” and constitute “defamation and libel” (Article 443 – translated from Dutch by me).
Furthermore they claim that
- I supposedly have published the home address of Mr Benlolo on my blog. I have checked and in none of my blog posts about the DROA (DROA scam, Govern yourselves accordingly and DROA: the saga continues) have I published any address belonging to a person: all addresses are PO Boxes – so not physical addresses – belonging to companies, not persons. These addresses I have found either on the letters what were sent by the DROA or on their web site.
The letter I received actually shows Mr Benlolo’s address, and I can confirm it is nowhere on my blog. Other unhappy customers might have done that on other blogs/forums, but not me.
- I am supposed to remove the three blog posts mentioned above ASAP. I have reread all three and in each I just cite known convictions of persons and companies involved, as well as reactions from institutions like the FTC and Better Business Bureaus who all disapprove of the type of business that the DROA is active in.
- Interestingly I’m also supposed to remove a fourth blog post “Amy Cross is spamming Technorati” which I did not know was related. Maybe it’s just because there’s a link to the DROA article.
I have gotten seven days to comply, and that period has just expired. I have tried to contact the lawyers but no one has bothered to call me back. I don’t agree with their claims, and I still stand by the blog posts I have written.
This post is about my dealing with the company DROA / Domain Registry of America.
I first wrote about them in Dec 2004: “Domain Registry of America scam“: they had sent me letters to urgently advise me to renew my domain names. When I researched a bit who they were, it became clear it was an shady initiative of some Canadian ‘businessmen’. They write scary letters in the hope that a non-tech-savvy person in the accounting department gets scared and quickly pays, thus transferring their domain management to DROA, who charge more than the average.
Then in March 2007, they contacted me to demand the removal of the blog posts, if not they would sue me for an Ontario court. “Govern yourself accordingly” showed that I was not impressed with that threat.
Now the saga continues: I have been contacted by a Gilbert Duchanan in an effort to make me remove my blog posts. It started on last Aug 19, with a short email. “I represent a company that is currently in talks to acquire the company Domain Registry of America. Upon searching on Google we discovered links to negative articles on your blog regarding the company. What would it take to have you remove the article(s) found at (…) Gilbert“. Just a first name, not a “Legal representative”, “Customer relations” or anything. That’s kind of weird for a legal person.
I replied: “Dear Mr Duchanan, I find it hard to believe that a company with honest and bona-fide practices would be interested in taking over the heritage of the DRoA. So unless you could convince me of the opposite, I will just assume that the scam will continue, and I will not take away the articles. Please be aware that this conversation could end up on my blog too. Peter” Who knows, it might develop into a good story. I of course expected to have legal threats at some point.
Continue reading DROA: the saga continues
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:
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
Continue reading Govern yourselves accordingly
UPDATE: I received a cease-or-desist from DRoA in March 2006 about this post.
UPDATE2: I received a cease-and-desist from a Belgian law office in November 2010 about this and other DROA posts.
Just received a letter in the post from ‘Domain Registry of America’ (DRoA), urging me to pay them for renewing my domain name. The paper, with a London address on the back, looks like a bill and tries to scare the reader with “Your registration will expire on May 10, 2005. Act today!”
The issue is: it’s a scam. There is no need for me to renew now, and certainly not with DRoA. I know exactly who manages my domains and I am quite happy with them. But I can imagine this trick works quite well with people who have no clue how DNS works, or in accounting departments of companies. These guys have been fooling people since at least 2002, as the Domain Registry of America, of Canada, of Europe and of Australia.
Who’s behind it?
- The letter I received has a UK address: (…) SW7 4UB London. This happens to be the same address as Mail Boxes Etc, so it’s probably just a mail box.
- The letter was shipped from “Jamaica, NY”, which seems to be the USPS post office in John F Kennedy Airport. The address on the DRoA site says “(…) – Buffalo, New York”, which apparently is again a “Mail Boxes Etc” location.
- A legal document of the Federal Trade Commission (Dec 2003) places the company in Ontario, Canada. I found a “(…), Markham, Ontario” address on their Canadian site. Again an PO Box, no ‘real’ address.
- A search in Canada’s WHOIS comes up with: droc.ca was registered in Aug 2001 by a Mr Pearl Bitton. A search in Canada’s 411 phone directory gives us one Mr. P. Bitton in Thornhill, Ontario – about 15km away from Markham. I can’t be sure it’s him, of course.
- The FTC final judgment of Dec 2003 mentions a Daniel Klemann, President of DRoA. Mr Klemann must be seing a lot of court rooms, because he was already convicted in Canada in June 2002. So this man has been told twice by a judge that he should stop his practices, but still continues.
- His partner in crime, James Tetaka, equally popular in courtrooms, was convicted for similar facts in May of 2004 and described as a Toronto-area man.
- The company under which they operated is “1473253 Ontario Inc”, which is run by Peter Kuryliw, also from Toronto.
- So they first ran a scam as Yellowbusiness.ca, then as Internet Registry of Canada (IRC), and now they are basically active all over the world.