eNom has long been suspected of warehousing domain names dating all the way back to 2008 and using AcquireThisName.com to sell them. Several have pointed out (pdf) plenty of things that point to eNom but never really solid proof directly TO eNom, until now.
This morning I ran into the domain name EXX.com which started all my digging. That domain is listed on NameJet, but also listed on Afternic and the Afternic seller name is what grabbed my attention: eNom
The next thing that grabbed my attention was the volume of domains associated with the eNom sellers page on Afternic: 204,036
That is A LOT of domain names for an average domain investor, so I started digging the domains listed to see what kind of connections I could make and here are the things that I found. I am using the domain name IdeoMarket.com as an example, for no specific reason other than it was the first one listed but most have all things in common:
- They were once owned by somebody at eNom or NameCheap
- Expired and never dropped
- Parked with a for sale link to AcquireThisName.com
- Domain held creation date and the vast majority (193K) that I looked into held the email address: email@example.com at some point mainly between 2013/2014 time frame. The rest of the time, including now, the domains are under whois privacy protection.
Once visiting the domain name itself, you land on a parking page using the Name-Services.com dns with the following message:
Upon clicking on the link, you end up at a AcquireThisName.com offering page.
So at this point, no connection can be made directly to eNom, unless you are aware of the listing page at Afternic and see the sellers name on the page, as being eNom.
eNom is the sellers name and has been a member since 2003. The domain IdeoMarketing.com is listed with a $759 Buy Now, along with 204,036 and climbing domains. With the above mentioned, this clear as day links AcquireThisName.com to eNom!
The domain is listed on NameJet also with the same Buy Now as Afternic:
I connected countless amounts of domains “just to be sure” and all of them did the same thing as mentioned above using IdeoMarketing.com. Random, mostly low value domains, which I don’t totally understand.
During my research I have also uncovered another likely “shell company” called “Profile Group”. I have found the email address firstname.lastname@example.org that shows a lot of domain names using that email address and then following the privacy protection and being listed on the Afternic.com/eNom page and also being listed on NameJet with the Buy Now pricing or simply listed as Pre-Release.
Exx.com, the first domain lead me to the “Profile Group” name. EXX.com has been confirmed to be owned by eNom from a source I have! That domain is also listed under the eNom Afternic page. CampusLink.com was one that lead me to the email address. The Profile Group is a lot different than most of the “warehoused” domains at eNom as the domains using (and many most recently changed to eNom under privacy, like CampusLink.com for an example) Profile Group are with other domain registrars like Network Solutions, Name.com, Register.com MelbourneIT and more smaller registrars. Some Profile Group domains have since transferred into eNom. There are also more valuable domains in this batch like:
Intimacy.com which has a little bit different history, as this one links to New Ventures Services, which is a Web.com LLC shell company. Dirty company IMO! Profile Group is displayed in whois starting April 2, 2014. New Ventures Services was displayed in whois prior. I connected about 4,000 domain names like this. Intimacy.com is currently under privacy but nothing indicates to me that it “sold” since going into privacy from Profile Group. AbsoluteRates.com is another just for an example that went to New Ventures Services on 5/19/2014 and by 10/1/2014 Profile Group is displayed in whois. Why Profile Group/eNom/New Ventures Services are connected, I’m not sure. The domain is not currently listed on NameJet, but is on Sedo.
Mom.org has some history to it and links the Profile Group with current whois, but this one is listed under a different user name at Afternic under Namecom and was listed May 4, 2015 on Afternic. Namecom shows 64,165 domain names listed. All of the Namecom domains appear to be using the same IP Address 220.127.116.11 . The ASN is listed as: AS21740 ENOMAS1 – eNom, Incorporated (registered Jun 15, 2001)
Based on what I could link currently there are about 15,000 domains under the “Profile Group” name but many more were but have since went under privacy protection.
The question remains as to why these domain name registrars are passing domains between them and listing the domains as being owned by “Profile Group” is unknown. Almost all that I could see are listed for sale, just at different places, under different names other than the actual registrar that really owns them.
The discovery of “Profile Group” may link several domain registrars together?
Web.com LLC and it’s shell company New Ventures Services. That connection is the Intimacy.com domain and thousands more.
Mom.org and Name.com have connections to Profile Group, as well as the Namecom user name at Afternic with the vast majority of domains under that user name, being registered at Name.com.
There are over 5,000+ domains linking the Profile Group and domains at MelbourneIT, with Exx.com being one of those.
PaintingLessons.com is registered at Register.com (Web.com LLC owned) and is a Profile Group domain. There are over 3,000 + domains that fit this registrar connection.
486.org links Spot Domain LLC dba Domainsite.com to Profile Group.
To note, Warehousing domain names is not illegal. ICANN is in the process of putting policies in place but has yet to implement them. It is frowned upon by a lot of people, including me. I have been hard on Tucows for doing it for a long time. It is up to you, if you want to do business with a company that practices tactics you believe in or not.
The problem has always been, most registrars go to great lengths to hide what they are doing and create shell companies like New Ventures Services, Profile Group and one GoDaddy had Standard Tactics. If you are not sure what Domain Name Warehousing is, that link helps explain it. There are really different forms of warehousing domain names. It appears that eNom may be offering the domains they have first as a pre-release on NameJet (based off of whois records) and if the domain doesn’t sell, they warehouse it and not release the domain to the public. I can’t confirm these domains ever have been listed publicly when they expired or not though. There are times when a domain registrar warehouses an expired domain name and never allows the domain to be publicly auctioned at a reasonable price. Clearly, one is worse than the other…
I reached out to Matt Overman @ Rigtside for comment and have not heard back at time of publishing.
The Profile Group discovery is potentially more interesting than the connection of AcquireThisDomain.com and eNom and I haven’t fully dug into it the amount I should. I have already spent most of the day doing the digging that I did. I try to be clear and back things up with facts. I look at a lot of data, so I’m hoping I presented it fair and clear. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and anything further that you can share. Please stay on topic and provide some proof with claims.