Social media entrepreneur facing 20 years in jail for trying to muscle domain name
The competition for money in the web space is real. In one case, a maverick web businessman was willing to strongarm a peer to get hold of the domain name he held
An emerging entrepreneur seemingly on the fast track for success is now facing 20 years behind bars after he was convicted of threatening to harm an Internet domain holder for refusing to release the domain.
Rossi Lorathio Adams II, 26, founder of State Snaps, was found guilty of the charges last week, according to the Justice Department. State Snaps features videos of women in thongs and bikinis, partying it up in college. With 1.5 million followers, State Snaps urges people to snap shots and post to the site under the catchphrase “Do it for State!”
According to The Washington Post, the incident began in June 2015 after Adams went to the Cedar Rapids home of the victim, listed in court filings as “E.D.” to request that he sell the domain name doitforstate.com. Adams owned doit4state.com, but felt he needed the other name as well, so he found an address for E.D., through the GoDaddy listing and showed up uninvited to the domain owner’s home. Once there, Adams informed E.D. that he wanted to buy the doitforstate.com domain, but E.D. said it was not for sale.
From that point on, court documents say Adams continued to pressure E.D. to sell the site. At one point, E.D. said he would sell it for $20,000 but Adams thought the amount too high. And then Adams sent one of E.D.’s friends a message with a gun emoji, prosecutors wrote in court documents.
In May 2017, Adams went again to E.D.’s house. When his brother answered the door, Adams simulated punching by punching his fist into his hand, before stating: “I’m here for the name whatever it takes,” according to court documents. “I’m not leaving without it.”
Still, no domain name. Finally, in June 2017, Adams orchestrated an incident at E.D.’s house that turned bloody, according to The Washington Post.
Adams enlisted the help of his cousin, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., a felon, to help him get the website domain. Adams is charged with giving Hopkins a stolen gun, a Taser, and written instructions to get E.J. to transfer the domain name into Adams’ GoDaddy account.
Hopkins broke into E.D.’s house, using pantyhose, sunglasses and a hat to obscure his face. Hopkins busted down E.D.’s bedroom door and pulled E.D. at gunpoint to his computer to begin transferring the domain name – all the while pistol-whipping him and using the Taser and threatening further harm if he notified police.
The two men got into a tussle and E.D. twisted the gun from Hopkins and shot him several times in the chest before calling 911.
Hopkins survived his injuries, but was charged by police. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison last June after pleading guilty to one count of interference with commerce by threats and violence, according to The Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Adams now faces the same sentence plus a $250,000 fine, after he was convicted last week.