Steve Sachs Duke


Friday, July 25, 2003


Putting Away the Bad Guys: As the proud owner of an Internet domain and a customer of, I was surprised to find in the mail the other day a "Domain Name Expiration Notice" from an outfit called "Domain Registry of America" (DROA). The letter stated that "You must renew your domain name to retain exclusive rights to it on the Web," warning that "Failure to renew your domain name ... may result in a loss of your online identity." To prevent this, I should "transfer and renew" my domain name with DROA--which, although the letter didn't explicitly say so, would effectively switch my business to them and away from The letter also requested a reply by August, even though my domain name won't expire until December.

In other words, the letter looked like a fraud. It also appeared to violate a preliminary injunction issued in December by the Southern District of New York (, Inc., v. Domain Registry of America, Inc., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24795 (2002)), which enjoined the defendants from "Representing or committing any act which is calculated to or likely to cause third parties to believe that DROA is their existing Internet domain name registrar or registration service provider if that is not in fact the case" or "Falsely describing or misrepresenting the status or functionality of a third-party's Internet domain name registration or the information/ data associated therewith."

The opinion accompanying the injunction was interesting reading. As you might have expected, the people behind DROA have a slightly shady background:

Finally, several of defendants' managers have questionable pasts. Alan Benlolo, previously described by Klemann as "management of DROA," see Sept. 26, 2002 Klemann Decl. P 11 and Ex. F, was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in Pennsylvania in 1997, subsequently deported to Canada in 1999, and found liable of criminal securities fraud during a Securities and Exchange Commission action in 2000. See Hirschler Oct. 2, 2002 Reply Decl. Ex. L. Alan Benlolo and two others, including Elliot Benlolo, were arrested by Canadian authorities in 2001 for making false or misleading representations in deceptive mailers for an Internet business directory and Peter Kuryliw was convicted in 2002 on similar charges. See id. J-K. Most recently, company President Klemann was charged criminally under Canada's Competition Act, along with Domain Registry's predecessor corporation "Internet Registry of Canada," because of that company's misleading direct mail solicitations. See App. to Pl's. Nov. 15, 2002 Mem. of Law.

So, having received their letter, I did what any responsible citizen would do; I filed a mail fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and sent a copy to to help with the lawsuit.

Stealing bread to feed your family is one thing, but it's pretty hard to commit mail fraud without knowing that you're doing something wrong. I hope these guys get what they deserve.




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