Prosecutors said Monday a Union County man will spend five years in prison for being the first person known to be convicted of stealing a domain name.
Daniel Goncalves, of Union Township, pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and computer theft, all in the second degree, in connection with the theft and reselling of the domain name P2P.com.
Goncalves illegally accessed the GoDaddy.com account of P2P.com LLC, owned by Marc Ostrofsky, Albert Angel and Lesli Angel, in May 2006, and transferred the domain name to his personal account. After a 60-day waiting period, Goncalves transferred the domain again before putting it on sale on eBay.
Speculating on the value of domain names is common, and short, easy-to-remember addresses are more valuable. Goncalves sold the domain to an unnamed National Basketball Association player for $111,211 in September of 2006. At the time of the theft, the domain name was valued between $160,000 and $200,000.
P2P.com’s original owners were notified of strange activity on the site in May 2007, and once Goncalves’ IP address was traced to New Jersey, state police launched an investigation.
Goncalves was arrested July 30, 2009, and a search warrant was executed, uncovering “a large volume of business and computer records relevant to the domain name theft,” according to a release by the Office of the Attorney General. He entered his plea Dec. 13, and was sentenced on Monday to prison time and restitution.
Private civil litigation regarding the domain name is ongoing.