I’ve written many important and useful articles in the past, but this will be one of the most important ones I’ve ever written, so I highly suggest you read it in it’s entirity.
This evening was interesting. I received a DMCA, followed later by harassment and even death threats. Let me start at the beginning.
Several days ago I had contacted the owner of Starcraft2.net to try to purchase the domain. After a couple days of declining my increasing offers, Eric, the previous owner, contacted me again and said he would, after all, agree to my offer. It turned out that his previous declinations were stemmed from the fact that he had received a very authentic-looking DMCA and didn’t want to sell the domain to me as it’d under false pretenses.
However, Eric had done the smart thing and contacted Blizzard to inquire on the matter more. Blizzard responded by basically stating to ignore the e-mail as it didn’t come from them. And this would make sense, since the e-mail came from the address: firstname.lastname@example.org and not a Blizzard or even attorney’s office.
So, Eric had informed me of his incounter and had warned me that the scammer may try to contact me when the WHOIS information passed to my name.
Several hours ago, I received a DMCA from email@example.com. Even though I had been warned by Eric about this, it was still very uncomfortable.
Even with the suspicious Gmail e-mail account, the DMCA is as authentic looking as you’re going to get; in fact, it probably is authentic, only Blizzard never sent it; the scammer “Howard G Spinks” did.
Here is a copy of the DMCA e-mail sent to me: dmca email
A few minutes after receiving the e-mail, Howard G Spinks (Alfred E. Neuman?) added me to MSN. Here is a copy of the entire chat transcript with him. It’s a very entertaining read so I highly recommend reading it: piratereports.rtf
As you can see, I was very strong and held my ground from the beginning. This guy really does try hard to scare people into giving them their domains, or perhaps he is hired by competitors to try to thwart competition; that thought did cross my mind, but I think he really just tries to score good domains and probably sells them quickly thereafter.
You see that I ask the gentleman for his phone number, and he responds with “1-800-kiss my ass”. I guess he’s too afraid to continue his scam over the phone. I was also ready to record it for the police. I can’t believe he threw so many threats at me, I think he did this because I held my ground so well and his scam didn’t phase me. In the chat transcript, you can see the longer it goes on, the more his immaturity comes out, such as the use of the word “owned”.
It’s lucky that I had talked to Eric first, as that did help prepare me for this enslaught, which is partly why I wrote this article: BE AWARE OF SUCH SCAMMERS. If you ever receive a DMCA , C&D, or similar type of e-mail or even phone call, don’t immediately hand your domain over and surrender.
While it’s very important to comply with such legal matters, make sure first that they are authentic legal entities. You may even want to contact a lawyer if you don’t already have one on speed-dial and have them handle it for you.
You’ll notice that Howard G. Spinks states he is from PirateReports.com. Well, if you visit the Contact Us page on their site you’ll notice they clearly states: “If you receive an email purporting to be from any member of Pirate Reports and a digital signature is not included please forward a copy to us for a response and not our ISP. It is very likely a “spoof” from a pirate to damage our reputation.”
Guess what. I never received any such digital signature in my e-mail from him.
A Google search of “Howard G Spinks” returns a lot of results of people who have had similar problems with this scammer.
Now, for a bit of revenge. While notifying the public of his scams will undoubtedly be revenge enough, here are a couple of his contact details
So feel free to give him a hard time
Also feel free to help spread the word of this post – I really want to put this scammer out of business. I’m sure he’s hurt too many people already…