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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 23531
Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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What I'm going to explain is very strange and I'm not really

Customer Question

Hello,
What I'm going to explain is very strange and I'm not really sure how to deal with the situation. Yesterday i received a email stating that the domain of my name is ***** ***** sale from a online reputation management company. I will use the name John Doe for example purposes here. I decided to google the site which was my name www.johndoe.com and what I found was a little shocking. It is a webpage holder and it has a bunch of images and texts that I do not want anyone thinking is me as the person. It appears to be a personal webpage with political humor, girls in bikinis, my likes and dislikes, music choices etc. To be honest, if someone was to stumble upon this and think it was really a website I created, it would be embarrassing. They have put a disclosure at the bottom of the page with something like " this webpage does not necessarily represent and views and opinions of anyone named John Doe. This is an example website of what is important to have individual reputation management in place, etc, etc, etc.
I DO NOT want to pay them to buy the website, as this appears to be a option. I'm not sure what to do here, do I have any legal recourse in having this taken down?
Thank you for your time,
John
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello,
My name is ***** ***** I will be assisting you with your question.
This is a domain name scam, and it's highly popular in China. Perhaps it's found its way over here.
In any case you get contacted by a domain registration company (generally in China) who pressures you into thinking that someone wants a domain name that's either in your name, or it has a different extension from a domain name that you actually own (eg: you've got the .com and they are selling the .net). In reality, not only is nobody else really interested in this domain, but the price at which they wish to sell it to you is much higher than you would have to pay through your own registrar.
Getting you to pay them for something neither of you want or need is their only purpose. And there's no reason you should pay if you can't use the site. Nobody else would have an interest in that domain except for you.
What's the name of the company that emailed you and their website or snail mail location?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The company is called BGH reputation Managment and I don't think it is in China. It's clearly a .com, not a .net. They have also attached Pay per click to the domain, so the real issue is when someone googles my name, it pops up as a top website ranked by google. As a working professional I get googled a lot, from employers looking to hire me to co workers wondering who I am. The thing is, it doesn't say it's me specificly, I guess it is tragic for anyone with the same name, its just my name as the webadress in a .com site and I don't want anyone to think it is me who has posted those pictures and political comments. Is what they are doing illegal? Do they have a right to create a website using the domain name of someone and post weird stuff?
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
Do you have the website for BGH Reputation Management? All I can find is a blog in German.
I understand the nature of your concern. I'm just trying to find out where this company is and whether it's in the US or outside of the reach of our law. That will determine what you can do about it and how.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, I can only find the same German blog that you see also. I do have a email address to contact them if I want to purchase the domain. Do we have any lawys in the U.S that protect us from this? It just seems very strange to me. If i knew this would happen I probably would have just bought the domain that is my full name for $12. Now someone else owns it and is publishing information that makes me uncomfortable as its my name as the domain and then contacting me if I want to purchase the domain. Can you please let me know what Law's are in place to protect myself from this? I will hire an attorney, but I want to know that this is criminal before proceeding. Please advise.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
This would appear to be a violation of the Digital Media Copyright Act in that they are using your name and facts about you, as if you put them there and without your permission and authority. A lawyer should be able to get this site taken down.
https://www.dmca.com/FAQ/What-is-a-DMCA-Takedown
That's civil and has to do with your intellectual property rights. The extortion aspect of it is arguably criminal.
Do you know how to find a website's WHOIS? Go to www.domaintools.com and type "your" website into their search box. Unless the site registrant/owner has opted to pay for a private proxy service to hide the owner and the location, there should be contact information there. This would be who is responsible for what's on the post and who can be sued or prosecuted.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That is the problem, there are actually not facts about me. It's all nonsense that does not represent anything about me but I'm embarrassed if anyone see's it and thinks it might be me. it comes right up when you google my name. The site is obviously created to urge me or another person with the same name to buy it as it feels personal to me/them. This is an criminal extortion case correct? Thanks
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 1 year ago.
You said in your initial question that it shows what purports to be your likes/dislikes choices, etc. The DMCA takedown is not my specialty area, but the use of your name may be good enough.
Yes, extortion is criminal. You could report the site to your police, to the FBI at IC3.gov, which is their Internet Crime Complaint Center, to your state attorney general and to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.
And, through a lawyer, you can go after their server to get the page and/or the site taken down.

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