First Ever Stolen Web Domain Case Going to (Basketball) Court

Domain name pilfered

It's the first case of its kind involving the arrest of a suspect for stealing an Internet domain. So if it was going to involve just one team in the NBA, you know it had to be the no-luck Los Angeles Clippers.

The domain name, "" was allegedly stolen by Daniel Goncalves, 25, of Union Township, N.J., according to the Jersey State Police Cyber Crimes Unit.

In May of 2006, Goncalves, who works for an online research firm and has a web-hosting business, allegedly secretly and illegally transferred registration on the domain after it had been legitimately registered with by somebody else, cops claim.

According to the the New Jersey State Police, , the name is highly valuable, "because of its short length and topical relation to the exploding Peer to Peer file sharing phenomenon...  with an estimated value of between $160,000 and $200,000 at the time of its theft."

In September 2006, Goncalves sold the the domain name on eBay for $111,000 -- to power forward Mark Madsen of the L.A. Clippers.

Madsen, who is big on Twitter, has not commented on the case.

"The domain name industry is in some respects still like the wild west.  Many of the rules are not yet codified into state laws, let alone federal or international laws," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. 

"There is no deed for ownership of a domain name.  In most cases they are protected solely by a login and password for the site through which they are registered.  Nevertheless, theft is theft, and that law that can be applied whenever possession of an own-able thing is improperly transferred for gain." Fuentes added.

Goncalves faces felony charges of theft by unlawful taking or deception, identity theft, and computer theft. State police say each of the three counts carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Goncalves, who did not respond to a reporter's phone calls, is free on a $60,000 bond.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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