The internet can be a dangerous place with hacking, identity theft, malware, and more. However, in the vast array of dangers, owning a domain name is probably at the very bottom of the list. Or, that was the case until this week, when a domain listed for sale ended in a 14-year prison sentence. In 2017, an Iowa man, Rossi Lorathio Adams II, wanted to purchase a domain name that was for sale (doitforstate.com). This is a pretty common case, especially when the domain name is in high demand or involves a coveted keyword. The price was set at $20k, a high price (but far less than Pepsi paid for theirs).
The price was too much for Adams to bear. Rather than paying the price, a plot was hatched to steal the domain name from the owner at gunpoint. The failed buyer and his cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr., drove to the domain owner's house and the cousin entered the house with a gun and a demand note with instructions on how to transfer the domain to the failed buyer's GoDaddy account. Nothing went as planned, with both the cousin and the owner getting shot. In the end, Hopkins took a plea deal including a 20-year prison sentence. This week, Adams was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
The list of problems with this plot is so long that it's painful. Even if it had worked and Hopkins and Adams had gotten away from the house with the domain transfer initiated, a call to GoDaddy would have been able to cancel the transfer. The transfer would have created a paper trail that tied Adams to the crime, making the case possibly even easier. Plus, an armed robbery for $20k is ridiculous. That would have barely been worth the risk 100 years ago, let alone today.