Speculators snap up Virginia Tech-related domains

Domains registered via an anonymous registrant that masks details of the person purchasing the URL

Speculators have registered Web domains related to the Virginia Tech killings, including URLs such as vatechshooting.com and vtmurders.com. Some are for sale for as much as $US1 million.

Numerous domains have been registered at GoDaddy.com since Monday's shootings, according to searches at the discount registrar. They include vatechshooting.com, vtmurders.com, vtkillings.com, vatechshooting.net, vtrampage.com and vatechmassacre.com.

The domains were registered Monday, the day of the shootings; several were registered via an anonymous registrant service that masks the name, phone number and mailing address of the person who purchased the URL.

According to reports in the Roanoke Times in Virginia, Joseph Parker of Christiansburg, Va., registered vtmurders.com and vtkillings.com, both of which he placed for sale on his Web site at $US250,000. Parker is allegedly offering other domains, including choseng-hui.com, for $US1 million. His Web site, although online earlier today, was greeting visitors later in the afternoon with the message, "Site Down For Service." Parker did not reply to e-mail from Computerworld.

As of late Wednesday, several Virginia Tech-related domains were for sale on eBay, including a three-URL package of virginiatech2007.com, virginiatech2007.net and virginiatech2007.org, priced at $US45,000.

As recently as yesterday, however, additional graphic domains and URLs that could potentially be used for fraud were posted on the online auction site, including vatechcarnage.com ($US100,000 to buy immediately) and vatechvictimsfund.com (offered at $US10,000). Those auctions, however, had been yanked from the site by Wednesday.

Domain registration spikes are not unusual in the aftermath of major news events, with those registering either expecting a windfall on the sale of notable URLs or, in some cases, using them as lures for spam or phishing attacks. After the Asian tidal wave disaster of December 2004, for example, a Canadian art student tried to sell tsunamirelief.com on eBay for $US50,000. Several bogus sites playing off the Katrina hurricane of 2005 raked in money from people fooled into thinking they were donating to the American Red Cross.

Although not related to the domain registrations, at least one spammed Virginia Tech scam is already in circulation, a security company said today. Spam claiming to offer video of the shootings is being sent, said Sophos, but the message's attachment -- a Windows screen-saver file named TERROR_EM_VIRGINIA.scr -- is actually an identity-stealing Trojan designed to pinch banking usernames and passwords.

"It is extremely disturbing that criminals have so quickly jumped to exploiting this horrible tragedy," said Ron O'Brien, a Sophos senior security analyst, in a statement. "Unfortunately, it's not that surprising. We've seen similar behavior with other tragedies, like Hurricane Katrina and the death of Pope John Paul II."

Virginia Tech's official Web site is up and running, as is a memorial site the university has set up.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?