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Namejet knows about auction shill bidding (now and in the past)

Namejet knows about auction shill bidding on their platform. Period. They knew about it now and they knew about it in the past. There has always been some shill bidding on all auction platforms.

Yes, of course there has been shill bidding in other auctions platforms. GoDaddy had and has several issues including missing auction bidder handles. But Namejet is number one in aftermarket auctions that are set by the domain owners (i.e. not expired auctions) and there seems to be a problem there. Personally I don’t really follow these auctions. I bid on expired auctions 99.9% of the time. But there there are other problems with expired auctions, like front running, paid domains not delivered and of course marketplace bidding like Snapnames did with the legendary Halvarez scandal years ago.

Marketplaces are not too eager to investigate such matters. I was banned from Snapnames in late 2014 because I told them that there were 2 neighbors bidding on each others domains. I am still banned.

If Namejet didn’t know about all this shill bidding going on then they are simply useless, incompetent and should all be fired immediately! They knew that there is always something going on. Did they act?

Did Jonathan Tenenbaum knew about shill bidding? He did because he has dealt with it in the past. Did he know the extend of it today? If he didn’t then he CHOSE not to know because it was good for business. Yes, shill bidding is good for all marketplaces. At least until it is all exposed.

Has Namejet installed alerts to signal unnatural or fraudulent bidding? Do they perform monthly audits? Do they do random spot checks?

Hey Namejet, cut the bullshit. Start doing your job. Your whole job was the integrity of the platform. That was about it.

I wrote about shill bidding on Namejet in April. What did they do? They probably banned 1-2 accounts and did nothing else! How many accounts has Namejet suspended for shill bidding since April? Does Namejet only investigates when a public post is made?

I went working in 2015 for a big basketball team. I knew within 2 hours of looking at the database that people were doing monkey business with ticket money. I knew within 2 days how they were doing it and how many times they had done it. Give me the Namejet database and I will let you know in 2 days what the top 100 bidders have done. Give me 10 days and I will know everything.

Here is Jonathan Tenenbaum’s comment from April:

Hi Konstantinos,

We appreciate the heads-up. We are investigating and taking steps as needed here. The integrity of our platform is our top priority and we would in no way condone sellers artificially propping up auctions with illegitimate bids.

Thanks,

-Jonathan
GM, NameJet

This is the almost identical (in regards to disclosure and actions taken) comment that Jonathan made on Namepros.com yesterday:

In an effort to keep everyone current as to where we stand on this matter, I wanted to share the following update. There have been some inaccuracies and misconceptions that have been brought forth by such a spirited discussion. And it would be a challenge to respond to all of them – therefore, I want to bring the discussion back to the heart of the matter.

As stated earlier, we take the issue of shill bidding on NameJet very seriously and we are conducting a thorough investigation, keeping in mind that the integrity of our platform is of utmost importance to us. As I have said repeatedly, we do not condone shill bidding of any kind. We would never encourage, promote or otherwise be involved in any such thing and our position is clear – it is never allowed on NameJet!

In our current investigation certain auction activity has come to light that we deem questionable and a possible violation of our terms. This kind of activity is not acceptable to us and we are taking steps to deal with it. We have suspended several accounts while working through the information we have available.

I thank everyone for their patience as we work through these issues. Our goal is to best serve our customers and we are working hard to that effect.

-Jonathan

That is simply not enough Jonathan this time. We the bidders of Namejet want names, number of accounts closed, how much money was refunded, number of affected auctions, your database examined by chartered accountants, etc. We demand results. We demand to know how this is going to be prevent in the future.

Andrew Rosener made a proposal on thedomains.com. He said a lot but this is the summary: “I said that if there is NO RESERVE then I think the practice of an owner bidding for their own domain should be allowed.”.

Andrew told me that he has never made any shill bids and I believed him. He said that this was just a proposal.

But in my opinion this is a very dangerous proposal to be made in public. The proposal suggests doing what is plain fraud in most countries. There is no way to make it legal or fit it into any TOS. The result can’t be called an auction. This could be an ellaborate live and time sensitive negotiation platform.

Yes, bidding on your own domains is fraud. Period. Guess why eBay doesn’t allow it!

Now let me go and remove a few of my backorders from Namejet…

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

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11 comments

  1. Jonathan Tenenbaum is to friendly with all these players, he needs to be fired, or resign, he is an utter failure of a manager.

    Why would they turn an eye, they make millions more, I think their is a large offshore network of players at work here, this is not a one off incident.

    Namejet is in to deep, and they probably ignored the red flags along the way to shoo any litigation that will expose this.

    I think this is the tip of the iceberg, more to come, we have all seen traces of it, reported it, trusted them to do something about it, and they turned the other way.

    Always a fall guy, and Jonathan Tenenbaum you are it! but you actually deserve to be it!

  2. Of course they know. Their system can (should) detect this stuff in the blink of the eye. One simple ten minute script is all that’s needed. I can make it during lunch break if they would like…………Good job keeping it straight K!

    • It seems like it’s their BUSINESS MODEL, and instead of being transparent about it, we’re being fed lies to pretend it’s a fair auction house.

  3. I tried to find out the legal status of shill bidding. It seems to be covered by US statutes prohibiting mail and wire fraud.

    A jeweler had to pay a 400k settlement:

    “Ebay, the nation’s largest online auction marketplace… brought the suspicious bidding patterns involving EMH to the attention of the attorney general — at the time Eliot Spitzer…”

    “Ebay has installed a number of policies and surveillance tactics aimed at curbing shill bidding.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/09/business/09auction.html

    And on the NY A-G site, Eliot Spitzer warned that it “defrauds consumers.”

    https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/shill-bidding-exposed-online-auctions

  4. I have not read through the namepros thread, but somebody who I know and trust, says this is the beginning of the end for the Booth brother’s, Oliver Hoger, and possibly Andrew Rossner. Namejet might survive but the trust is gone for good.

  5. Ofcourse they know/knew, that is why I called them the “NameJet Gang” over a year ago.

  6. Will be even more wary of the non expiring names after this (I tending to mostly avoid them anyway).

  7. No surprise at all to see Rosener incriminated here…he gives the term dodgy a bad name.
    Whilst many applaud his brokered mega deals so many remain ignorant of all his extremely dodgy practices.
    Sooner or later the truth will out.

  8. Lend.me is f—ing WEAK. 200 DOLLAR DOMAIN

  9. Within the past month or two, I reported a suspicious case to Jonathan Tenenbaum involving 1 NameJet seller who runs bulk inventory through the platform. To me it looked like shill bidding. Jonathan suggested there might be another explanation, in which case my own negligence would be to blame for about a dozen purchases. But he was kind enough to issue me a refund anyway. We were going to follow up and look at the details, but both of us were too busy.

    I also suggested to him that I could write an algorithm to monitor for shill bidding at NameJet on an ongoing basis. He expressed interest in the idea. Maybe this proposal would have fizzled out, given competing demands for attention. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he was being disingenuous. He may have wanted to beef up policing efforts within NameJet.

    I’m a cynic. Yes, I understand that NameJet arguably benefits by turning a blind eye – either because of revenue or for the sake of established seller relationships. But I’m willing to give NameJet the benefit of the doubt to some extent. Even if they suspect they may have problems, it can be difficult to focus on canceling sales. Without a public uproar, it’s hard to justify that. Much easier to justify focusing on more sales and marketing than investigating one’s own customers with an eye toward issuing refunds AND causing a scandal that hurts the company even more. You see what I mean? People would rather eat chocolate than broccoli.

    Of course, people who pay attention know shill bidding is rampant in this industry. And we’ve had suspicions about who and how and where for years.

    But what are we going to do about it? Back in January 2015, when Flippa was was the darling of domainers, I wrote an exposé about shill bidding on Flippa. It was intended to be the beginning of a series. In fact, I was researching particular sellers and other venues. However, it’s impossible to justify spending weeks of unpaid work on such a project. Especially when the end result is finding oneself sabotaged by brokers and bloggers as a “conspiracy theorist”. At best, I was losing money by spending time on investigative journalism. At best, I was burning bridges for myself – alienating 1/3 of the more influential pundits and brokers, ensuring that marketplaces would close the doors to my own inventory.

    Until there is a sustained public backlash, this industry cannot justify allocating resources or attention to solving this problem. It’s an unregulated industry. Self-regulation has a cost. Unless companies are losing business by not self-regulating, they won’t do eat the broccoli. This isn’t Namejet only. It’s everybody.

    Ostracizing the sellers who engage in shill bidding – which is fraud, plain and simple – is step #1.

  10. Its a network of domainers…you will see so many useless domains in top picks will belong to tld pros etc…its all a game…they built a reputation , and they are promoting their domains to get top $$$ for domains..so many domains will find high number of bids and when who is searched it all belongs to one particular domain owner..

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