Was Godaddy Caught Registering Domains Names After Availability Lookup?

Godaddy, the domain name registrar, has apparently been caught registering domain names after someone has looked up the availability of a domain name. This guy claims that he looked up a domain name to see if that domain name was available. The domain name was available, but apparently he did not register the domain name that day. He came back a few days later to find that the domain name had been registered by, low and behold: Godaddy themselves.

As you might recall, Network Solutions was caught a while back registering domain names within seconds of a domain availability lookup–causing you to have to go register the domain name through them.

When I broke the news regarding Network Solutions’ policy back in 2008, there was a huge backlash, and Network Solutions eventually stopped the policy as a result.

Apparently this is what is being claimed in this case. However, I have not independently verified this claim, and not tested this myself. However, a quick check at Google help me find plenty of people who are claiming that Godaddy practices “front running’.

I personally reached out the Godaddy regarding these claims, and received a statement from Rich Merdinger, Vice President of Product Development – Domains, at Godaddy:

“Go Daddy does not and never has participated in domain name “front-running” – the act of registering domain names after a registration search is done.”

Rich Merdinger
Vice President of Product Development – Domains

So, there we go. That’s the statement that I received from Godaddy. Can we now honestly say that Godaddy is not involved with domain name “front running”? I’m not sure at this point. I’ve reached out to Zen, the guy I mentioned earlier in this post who made the original accusation, and I have not heard back with any proof. I’d be happy to post any proof that anyone has regarding Godaddy’s “front running’. But I haven’t seen that yet.

Update: Links in this post have been removed, as they weren’t working at last check. November 16, 2014.

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  1. Rob Jones says

    Yeah… that’s heartwarming to see. Look forward to the followup on this. Nice catch.

  2. MAX LEVIN says

    I was watching a domain name that was set to expire June 20. The domain was grabbed by a proxy company called BLUERAZOR.COM. Do the research and you will see that GoDaddy and Bluerazor are both owned by Bob Parsons, ELEPHANT KILLER.
    BLUERAZOR is holding this domain and many others hostage in direct violation of US ANTI-CYBERSQUATTING LAWS.


  3. MAX LEVIN says

    I was watching this domain closely and it was about to be abandoned by the owner. BLUERAZOR grabbed it the day that it expired.I had searched for it on GoDaddy in the days leading up to it’s expiration.. Many domains stay active for months after expiration, but this one was grabbed immediately even though it is an obscure name. GoDaddy and BlueRazor now want to charge me to enter an “auction” process. I call BS on their fake ass auction.

    DO THIS:

    Create domain names that you don’t want.
    Search for the domains in Godaddy or BlueRazor domain search over a period of time.
    Monitor the whois activity of the domains you searched for and look for registrant information.
    Has GoDaddy or BlueRazor gobbled up any of the dummy domains that you created?

    Report any data that you get t me at [email protected]

  4. M. Wally says

    Several years ago I registered an awesome 4-letter dictionary-word dot-com domain with GoDaddy. I remember being so stoked that it was available, and it was mine!

    Within a few hours I got an email from their fraud department, requesting color scans of my photo ID and credit card. Within 12 hours I provided the scans, but, by then, they had already “released” the domain back into the pool, and it was then immediately re-registered by GoDaddy themselves.

    Once I got past the fraud people, I was simply told that the domain was no longer available.

    This was the last time I ever used their service.

  5. Vlad says

    Wally, if that is true, you should contact the media. Domain registrars like GoDaddy all have the ability to get a refund for a domain name within 5 days, so there is no reason for them to cancel it after 12 hours, nor to keep it for themselves. Both of these are huge scandals.

    What was the domain name by the way?

  6. Mike says

    I have had several instances when searching for domains where within minutes of finding an available one it is listed as not only no longer available but for sale by GoDaddy through their auction services.

  7. Kevin says

    I have actually experienced this in the past and had other webmasters experience similar issues. Not to mention that almost all the domain name ideas I have had in the last 2 years, if they are taken they are owned by godaddy. which I mean prettttty interesting.

    I scold anyone that even mentions any of their services. crap hosting. crap advertising. shady practice overall. do not go godaddy.

  8. Carson Ward says

    TL;DR GoDaddy sends out ideas your search for/add to cart, but don’t buy. Poachers (their partners) grab them and extort you.

    So I believe GoDaddy is both telling you the truth and hiding the truth. I didn’t know this was still under debate, as it’s happened to lots of people, and to me. Bear with me as I tell the story.

    I searched a VERY VERY obscure domain name (.org and .com) which were, unsurprisingly, available. I added them to cart, but decided to think on it, discuss it, and make sure I had the name just right.

    I came back a couple days later to register the domain, and it was gone – registered by GoDaddy. When I contacted them, they said they did not own the domain, but they had registered it for someone, whose contact info they provided. When I contacted this person, they clearly had no idea what the domain name meant, and they “had plans for it,” but would sell it to me for $500. I tentatively agreed, asking how they learned about the domain name. It seems GoDaddy sends out emails to customers who pay for lists of abandoned domains that were searched. Some of these people – like the woman demanding $500 from me – just buy a bunch of them, knowing that suckers like me will come knocking, willing to pay for something they just didn’t complete.

    And no, I never bought it. I don’t have tons of money, and it just made me mad.

  9. Richard says

    This has happened to me too. I looked up an obscure domain name and a week later when I went back to register it, GoDaddy had beaten me to it.

  10. Dnyanesh Mankar says

    I looked up one domain on GoDaddy and came back after two days to register it and it was gone. It was not so common name that any other person would bother registering it.

  11. Slippery Slope says

    I’ve had this happen to me with atleast 1 domain name with GoDaddy. I thought maybe I was just being paranoid but now it all makes sense.

  12. bofh says

    Now what if enough people run shell (or curl, or whatever it takes to do the job) scripts, to check for randomly generated domain names and simulate an “add to cart” click ?

  13. George says

    Any registrar that also registers domains themselves for trade is a party I wouldn’t use (for lookups or other domain business). Its shady.


  14. Jason says

    Just requested Rn7UZ4PLIkxDOB.com added to cart, then abandonded it. Lets see if it gets registered