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17 September 2010

Domainers’ Usernames Are the Target of a Gmail Squatter – Is Yours Gone?

ClipboardIt came to my attention today, courtesy of this post by Ms_Domainer on Namepros, that someone is impersonating domainers by registering Gmail addresses with their usernames and forum handles.

DomainMagnate originally posted this article (Domain Magnate » Blog Archive » Someone Snatched My Email!), and apparently both well-known and lesser-known domainers have been targeted. The alleged squatter’s motivations are unclear, but could include attempts to sell the names back to their rightful owners (which Google has banned), and sending seemingly “legitimate” emails using other people’s identities and trying to access login information for different accounts.

Out of curiosity, I went and checked, and sure enough, “domainsushi” AND the variant “domain.sushi” at gmail.com have both been registered, and NOT by me. I use my company domain for all my domain-related  correspondence, so I really saw no need to have myblogname@gmail.com.

There are a few things to keep in mind—if you have a common name (“Mike Smith”) or a username that multiple other people (non-domainers) might use, the name’s probably gone, but not because of any wrongdoing. But in the case of Ms_Domainer, tricolorro, or DomainSushi, well—it’s not likely that those are names that others had before. In my case, this blog was launched in July 2010, so to my knowledge, the brand “DomainSushi” never existed before that.

DomainSushi.com as a registered domain, however, has a history that goes back at least as far as 2008, and possibly 5-7 years before that. When I got it, it apparently had lapsed so long that it got recycled in the system and was available as a hand reg. So while it’s possible that that I’m the target of a recent Gmail squatter, it’s remotely possible that the person who owned DomainSushi.com before me, had registered its associated email addresses.

Gmail deactivates addresses that are inactive for a period of 9 months. The only caveat is that they are never made available to the public again, so if someone owned the name you’re after at one point in time, you can never register it.

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About Nadia

Nadia is the editor of DomainSushi. Her love affair with domain names and web development dates back to 1998, and she is passionate about educating the tech community, small business owners, and laymen about domain name strategy. Follow her on Twitter: @DomainSushi.

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5 Comments

  1. KevinSep 25, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Just wanted to clarify that domainsushi and domain.sushi (among other dot-separated alternatives) are the same in the eyes of Gmail. An email sent to dom.a.ins.ush.i@gmail.com will land in domainsushi@gmail.com's inbox. Same goes for mail sent to @googlemail.com.

  2. NadiaSep 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks, Kevin. I didn't realize Google wasn't differentiating between the two.

  3. NadiaSep 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks, Kevin. I didn't realize Google wasn't differentiating between the two.

  4. KevinSep 25, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Another handy trick is the + operator, which works a lot like a query string (the ? in an URL). Emails to domainsushi+blog@gmail.com would land in domainsushi@gmail.com's inbox.

  5. FloNameNov 8, 2010 at 4:20 am

    I've checked bot variations of mine (floname(s) months ago and they were both taken, so who knows what the intentions are. I just recently picked up the plural in the drop, but I found my blog url in the open registry like 2 years ago. It sucks too, because I've adopted my name across all channels from eBay to twitter and everything in between.

    Thanks for posting this sweetie =)