Like a lot of people, I’ve fallen trap to the idea that if a domain was “available” for registration, I must have been the first person to stumble across that domain. Or maybe the original owner let it expire, and now that it’s mine to register, I don’t have to worry about what the previous owner might have been using it for.
Like the people you enter into relationships with, domains often come with baggage, and you often don’t find out about it until it’s too late. I’ve run into a situation this past week, when I discovered that TWO separate sites in Mexico and China were redirecting to two of my domains. The sites turned up in a search in Big G. Curious, I clicked on the links, and lo and behold it was a complete mirror of my site. Clicking any of the links led you back to my original address, so I knew that they hadn’t hacked into any my files, and it was just a mod_proxy redirect. But why?
Several calls to GoDaddy revealed that there wasn’t anything malicious going on, and they told me not to worry (“think of it as free traffic!“). But my main concern was that the owners of these other sites would think that *I’d* had something to do with their DNS servers being changed, which of course I hadn’t. I immediately contacted the Mexican and Chinese site owners and hosts, and luckily, the problem was corrected. I still haven’t figured out the reason for the DNS issue (on their end) in the first place. Around the time that I first started receiving the foreign traffic (about 8 days ago), I’d done two things:
1. Moved both sites to a Dedicated IP with my registrar
2. Installed WordPress 3.0
#2 shouldn’t have anything to do with it, but the Dedicated IP might, although it’s statistically unlikely that BOTH of the IPs for two different sites happened to be previously owned by spammers.
After looking up the domain history in DomainTools, I found out that one of the domains in question was previously registered to Vladimir Liapkov of Ontario, Canada, who apparently runs an “electronic cigarette” business. He’s been associated with waytelecom.ca, a business that received an “F” rating from the BBB due to customer complaints, and several adult names that now point to his e-cig site. It’s possible that he might have been using my domain (in its previous form) to host or redirect to some sort of e-cig business, which could have either been legit, or a phishing site. He let the domain drop in April 2010, and I picked it up in the TDNAM Closeout section in June (now I know why it was in the bargain bin!).
To play it safe, I’m moving both of the sites in question to a different host, to see if that fixes the problem. I really hope the issue is with the IP, and not the name itself, because that would mean I’d completely have to start from scratch.
The point is, always dig into your domain’s history, because what may seem like a fresh hand-reg has most likely been owned by someone before, and you don’t want to end up with a domain with a tarnished past.