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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?