Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Attempted Domain Name Hijacking at Gunpoint
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By LTC Steven Howard, U.S. Army (Ret.)
A man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after breaking into another man’s home and demanding that he change ownership of “doitforstate.com” from the victim’s GoDaddy account to the intruder’s GoDaddy account.
GoDaddy, as well as all domain name registrars, require an address associated with all domain names by law. However, GoDaddy allows a user to purchase domain name privacy that will use a proxy address for an additional charge.
According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., 43, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was sentenced to prison after a December 2017 guilty plea to one count of interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1951. The case is the first Hobbs Act Extortion prosecution in the district involving an attempt to steal an Internet domain name.
When the victim asked Hopkins for a phone number and mailing address, stating that GoDaddy required the information to change ownership, Hopkins began to strike the victim repeatedly in the head with the firearm. Hopkins then “tased” the victim numerous times.
Fearing for his life, the victim struggled with Hopkins for the gun and was shot in the leg. After gaining control of the firearm, the victim then shot Hopkins in the chest multiple times and called the police.
Hopkins is being held in United States Marshals custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.