Are people stealing my domain names?

Tried this in GQ with no response. It’s mostly a gripe, but I really want to know though…

Are people monitoring Domain Name inquiries, and buying them preemptively for resale?

I’ve inquired about four websites in the last month. All four were available through Godaddy for just a few bucks. Now less than a month later, ALL FOUR are taken! The odds of that happening to all four seems unlikely. They’ve been unclaimed all this time, and now all at once they are all taken. One is my real name (dot com), and is now registered to someone with a different name.

Do people (or Godaddy) monitor inquiries and if they aren’t bought RIGHT AWAY, someone else makes “an investment” to try and make more money off you?

Do they actually have content on the pages or are they just full of advertizing? This Wiki page on Godaddy highlights some controversy on the matter.

My limited experience is that registrars don’t do this. Names that I’ve queried have been available weeks later, and if I actually buy them the registrar sends me e-mail months and years afterwards telling me that the dot-net and dot-org and dot-biz versions of the same name are also available, and would I like to purchase them[?] I’m not interested in buying any more names but I continue to get the notices about the other names still being available, in case I want them.

There’s a thread here on the DNS Stuff forums that talks about this issue.

It looks like certain registrars are monitoring searches for domain names, then sending lists of available ones that people showed an interest in but did not register to a 3rd party who then registers them and attempts to sell them on for several hundred (or even thousand) dollars.

I believe GoDaddy is one of those implicated in this.

Some people have had some success by simply ignoring these registrations. In many cases they are not real. With the assistance of a complicit registrar (they were previously using one in Venezuela, I think) they place a lock on the domain but then release it within a few days before payment is necessary. If they detect interest in the domain (hits on the pages, e-mails about it etc) they will go through with the full registration process, pay the five bucks to own it, then attempt to sell it on for several hundred times that price.

DNS Stuff provides a WHOIS lookup that can be used to see if a domain is available, but it’s not as convenient as those provided by companies like GoDaddy. They do try to guarantee that the queries cannot be hijacked in this way though.

The best advice is: be careful. If you’re out looking for a domain and find a few that are suitable then buy them all straight away. The cost is low enough that you should be able to afford to overbuy domains which you later let lapse. Don’t give these people the chance to buy them out from under you.