Cash reward offered for arrest of fraudster

Stephen Cohen, the man who hijacked and then squatted between 1995 and 1999, now has a $50,000 price on his head

A $50,000 reward is being offered for the arrest of fraudster Stephen Cohen, who is believed to have fled the US after failing to attend numerous court appearances for illegally cybersquatting the domain name.

Less than two months after the domain name was returned to its rightful owner Gary Kremen, the $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of ex-felon Cohen.

"The reward money doesn't discriminate," Kremen said in a statement. "I want to see to it that this doesn't happen to anyone again. I'll gladly pay out to anyone per the legal terms and conditions, if it means putting the man who stole the millions behind bars once and for all."

The terms and conditions for the reward have been set out by the company's legal team at The more specific terms require an actual arrest of Cohen by the US officials, meaning that he is "apprehended and taken into custody, either voluntarily or involuntarily". A foreign arrest will not qualify for the reward. The payout will also be given in US dollars at the discretion of Kremen's lawyers.

Cohen gained control of the lucrative URL in 1995 after issuing a forged consent from Gary Kremen, who had registered, a year earlier. The cybersquatter skipped several court appearances in May that were scheduled to assess why he had failed to pay the $25m (£17m) costs that Kremen was judged to have incurred while Cohen used the site between 1995 and 1999. An arrest warrant has now been issued by a California federal court, and the damages fine has been raised to $65m.

According to a US House of Representatives report, the online pornography sector averaged $2.7m (£1.84m) per day during 1999, making porn the most consistently successful e-commerce product on the Web.

See also: ZDNet UK's Net Crime News Section.

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