3. Doomed by a dodgy domain registrar

First things first, some corrections need to be made.

When I heard from Gina Garan about how her domain was sniped, I incorrectly assumed that the suddenness of it must have meant it happened prior to 2013 because after 2013 she should have received a 30 day grace period in which to renew her domain, rather than having it lapsed and sniped immediately. But after figuring out how to dig into the domain registration history of thisisblythe․com it turns out I made a big wrong assumption here. This is also where things get really quite mean and weird.

Looking at the domain registration history, the domain was owned by Gina Garan until 2016. This is 3 years after the 30 day grace period came in, so how could it have been immediately stolen? On the surface it looks as though the domain lapsed for several months before being taken over by another company after it wasn't renewed. However, according to Gina, the domain briefly lapsed and then was taken before she could renew it. This suggests it happened really quickly.

Confused, I decided to look into the pending domain registrar and the subsequent domain owner immediately after Gina, and that's where the truth became clear.

The domain record showing that the domain had been transferred from Gina Garan to her registrar as pending renewal

The domain record transferring the domain from Gina Garan to Network Solutions pending renewal

The first domain record after the pending renewal record is registered to a New Venture Services Corp

Domain record showing New Venture Services Corp as the owner

If you Google New Venture Services Corp, the very first result is a forum post warning about how shady they are.

It looks like Gina Garan got very unlucky because her domain registrar went from one of the first trusted domain registrars on the internet, to having the reputation of a fart in a lift. New Venture Services Corp is the holding company used by Network Solutions/Web(dot)com/Register(dot)com to funnel domains away from individuals and small businesses into their own pocket. They do this in order to try and ransom the domains back to desperate domain owners for extortionate fees, often demanding hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars to restore the domain to it's rightful owner. Often they don't even wait for a domain to expire before stealing it, and will pretend not to have received payment in time or other shenanigans in order to justify the theft.

A TrustPilot review showing Network Solutions are still ransoming domains in 2022

And they're still at it in 2022...

They typically transfer a cherry-picked domain and shovel it under the New Venture Services Corp name. They are also notorious domain squatters, even being sued by Facebook for squatting on domains similar to, or related to, famous domains that are highly desirable to scammers and fetch lucrative prices from nefarious actors online.

What may have seemed like an unknown person sniping the thisisblythe․com domain, was actually Gina's own registrar sniping the domain in order to attempt to hold her to ransom over it. However, clearly this didn't work out for them, so instead they put it up for sale again and in 2017, the current owners of thisisblythe․com bought it via GoDaddy.

Unfortunately, GoDaddy have a built-in domain proxy to hide client data from WHOIS. Plus, now thanks to GDPR, it's very difficult to find out who actually owns the domain because all the information that may have been available in the past has been redacted from the WHOIS history. It's possible I could submit a request for the redacted information based on the illegality of the ThisIsBlythe business, but that's not something I'm currently in a position to do.

So, until the sleaze balls get tired of their lucrative con, thisisblythe․com will remain a sad, stolen, pile of scammage.