Last month we wrote about a situation on Namepros that had members divided. It dealt with the bidding activity and business of Rami Steiteh on Namepros. Some had accused Rami of shill bidding and others wanted Namepros to take a further look into everything going on.
Eric Lyon completed his research and published a update detailing what he found out.
I would like to give an update on our investigations and respond to concerns that were expressed.
First and foremost, I want to assure everyone that NamePros is very aggressive at removing unethical users from our marketplace. We close accounts and revoke marketplace access all the time, and we almost always do it before any serious problems occur. This all goes on behind the scenes thanks to member reports, a proactive staff, and automated systems that we have in place that help us quickly detect and stop unethical behavior. The vast majority of the time, things run smoothly without anyone knowing about all of this work going on in the background and the measures being taken to keep everyone safe.
The great thing about NamePros is that it offers everyone the ability to conduct their own thorough investigations on potentially unethical members. If anything is found, they can report it to us and we’ll swiftly take action. If nothing conclusive is found from a member’s research but there is still suspicion, we’re always happy to investigate it ourselves to see if we can uncover anything. We’re the only major domain marketplace that offers this level of transparency, and it is the reason that we’re one of the safest places to do business.
Even with an unparalleled level of scrutiny on every member, there are very few reports of misconduct or scams taking place on NamePros, and that is fully accredited to our processes, members, and team working diligently to keep the community safe. I guarantee that if this same level of scrutiny and research could be applied to certain other websites by their members, you’d be shocked at what you found and how much fraud goes completely undetected by them, because they don’t have a community of people checking their work. At NamePros, you have the largest domain community and our dedicated staff looking out for each other, and that’s what makes it so special and unprecedented.
Live Domain Auctions
In August 2015, Rami began informing those in the domain community about his wife’s unfortunate prognosis with Hepatitis C.
In September 2016, Raymond Hackney presented the idea of running Live Domain Auctions to help quickly sell/liquidate Rami’s domains to turn them into cash for his wife’s life-saving treatment. These auctions were for domains that Rami owned and the winners of each auction received the domains they bid on after paying their winning bid amount. NamePros and Raymond did not collect any commission or charge any fees for running this auction. It was 100% free and allowed the buyers and sellers to transact freely in the same way that members do daily using the NamePros Marketplace.
I have personally verified his story: Rami sent me the login to the Diagnostic Laboratories’ website that ran the tests and provided me with video proof that his wife’s tests results for Hepatitis C were positive (confirmed as true). This proof is indisputable.
Although the auctions were a success in their own right (selling about $20,000 USD in domains), they generated a small fraction of the money that Rami needed to be able to afford his wife’s treatments, which can cost upwards of six figures for the medicine, doctors, and associated bills. That left Rami with one option: continue working and doing what he knows best to try to make more money for his wife’s treatment. Rami is a veteran domainer and the best way he knows to make money is buying and selling domains. He’s not buying domains to hold them, he’s buying them to flip for a profit so he can use the profits to pay for the medical expenses associated with his wife’s condition. He regularly buys and sells domains on NamePros for a profit, and he is still working to this day to earn enough money so that he can afford his wife’s treatment. If you’d like to learn more about the treatment she needs, the name of it is HARVONI.
Bidding on Friends’ Auctions
Here’s how we look at it: If it were against the rules to buy domains from your friends, then it would be in your best interest to not make any friends within this industry so that you were never prevented from buying domains that you wanted. If it were against the rules to buy domains from your friends, then it would be to your benefit to not go to domain conferences and meet people who have the same passion as you. People you can talk about domains with, your sales, and share your experiences with. You’d need to be a loner and not make any friends with like-minded people. You’d either have to miss out on potentially really good domains or meaningful relationships. You shouldn’t have to choose between the two.
NamePros, and the domain industry in general, encourages building relationships with one another and meeting other domainers. Our industry is small enough that you could go to a domainer meetup and speak with the most successful domainers to learn from them and possibly even befriend them. We’re a friendly community and building friendships is encouraged. It’s part of what makes this industry so great.
@Michael, a well-respected domainer, said it best: “I know hundreds of investors and call many of them friends, it would be crazy to not be allowed to bid on something they’re selling.”
Rami’s auctions were not the only auctions that she backed out of during that time period. All auction holders (Rami and other members) released her from her commitment as the winning bidder. NamePros was not informed by any sellers of this activity. Once this was brought to our attention by uninvolved parties (concerned members of the community), we thoroughly investigated it. In an effort to err on the side of caution, @tha-she and Rami were told not to participate in each other auctions. Here is more information on that: https://www.namepros.com/posts/5787984/
At the time we verified evidence of @tha-she either requesting to back out or completing deals with Rami after the auctions completed except for one auction where they believe the request to back out took place over the phone. Here she explains it in more detail: https://www.namepros.com/posts/5787854/
Important: It only takes cancelling 2 deals for a member’s marketplace access to be revoked. However, all of the sellers in this case permitted her to back out of the deals without informing us. Since we never got involved, we don’t know what would have happened if the sellers informed us and we told her that she must complete the deals. She may have found a way to pay for all of those deals if she was given that opportunity. Since she was never given the choice between paying or us taking further action, the fairest solution we came up with was to forbid her from bidding on Rami’s auctions. Additionally, to avoid this from happening again, we’ve updated our policies to penalize sellers if they do not report non-paying auction winners.
@000 raised a concern about this member. @Skyvisum informed us that he hadn’t accepted the transfer of the domain name yet, which is why the whois was still showing Rami’s information. My message served as a reminder to him and he accepted it. The whois updated to his information after that.
Another common scenario to keep in mind for the future is that buyers sometimes forget to update whois after accepting a domain into their account and it’s not within the seller’s control at that point. However, this was simply a case of a winning bidder forgetting to accept the transfer.
We did not find any connections/matches between @Skyvisum and Rami. They have bid on and purchased domains from several different members on NamePros over the years.
Here’s the conclusion:
Policy Update (New Rule)
We have added a new rule for domain auctions:
- Rule 6.2.14. Auction holders (sellers) and the winners (buyers) must report auction sales that will not be completed.
This means everyone involved is partly responsible if the issue is not reported to us.
@Michael – Thanks for this suggestion.
We work aggressively to check, double check, and triple check every report. We have (re-)investigated several reports about Rami since this thread was created and none of them showed wrongdoing on his part. We appreciate everyone who has sent us reports because they want to protect the community, but the only questionable thing we’ve seen was allowing a small number of members to back out of auctions when those members were in financial distress. We have since informed Rami that he may not let anyone back out of his auctions, and he has assured us it won’t happen again. He did not know that would be frowned upon, because it’s actually the opposite with Buy Now and Make Offer deals: if both parties agree to cancel their non-auction agreement, that it perfectly fine and happens every day with deals everywhere: over email, phone, etc. It only becomes an issue when that happens with auction winners. All of this has been clarified to him and those involved. We also updated our policies to dissuade others from it in the future.
After days of research and countless hours, we have found zero instances of Rami violating the rules or asking anyone to violate the rules for him. We have found no evidence of anything close.
We know that it would have been easier to just ban, but we choose to take the right path instead of the easy one. NamePros does not earn any money from Rami’s domain sales or his auctions. There is zero financial benefit for us to allow him to use our marketplace. The reason he is allowed to use our marketplace is simple: we investigated every report about him and no wrongdoings were found.
Closing / Status Resolved
David opened this thread with the best intentions of helping protect the community. We treated this thread like a customer support thread by investigating and responding to each report. Our investigations are complete and there were no signs of misconduct by Rami.
We value our members’ safety and satisfaction above all else, and I hope everyone understands that we never play favorites. We do everything we can to keep our members safe. We aren’t perfect and oversights happen, but we will never stop working tirelessly to make NamePros everything you expect it to be.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.