conman caught after five years flight

Long-running domain name fraudster gets collared in Tijuana

The man who stole top domain name has been arrested by Mexican police and handed over to US agents after five years on the run.

Stephen Cohen stole the domain name from original owner Gary Kremen, who sued Cohen for fraud and forgery in October 1995. A lower court ruled that Network Solutions was not liable, because domain names were not covered by the same rules as tangible property. Kremen subsequently won a $65m judgment against Cohen, who promptly transferred his assets overseas and fled the country. The original owner of the domain posted a $50,000 reward notice for Cohen on his newly returned site, but the con man remained at large, until now.

The US Appeals Court, however, last July ruled that Network Solutions should be held responsible for giving it to someone else without properly informing its rightful owner.

The con man who has already served three prison sentences for fraud was arrested yesterday in Tijuana as he applied for a work permit. He was turned over to agents of the US Border Patrol and is being held without bail at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in San Diego.

Kremen lost his rights to the domain name in 1995, when Cohen contacted Network Solutions, the company that administrated all dot coms, and convinced the registrar to authorise transfer of the domain to himself. Cohen claimed in a letter that Kremen's company, "Online Classifieds," did not have an Internet connection but had authorised the transfer of the domain name. Network Solutions transferred the domain without contacting Kremen or verifying the authenticity of the letter.