Upon examining the situation, Lorain County failed to pay a domain renewal fee of $17.99 for its tourism website visitloraincounty.com, resulting in its domain being taken over.
Lorain County Commissioner Matt Lundy said they were informed of the domain’s impending expiration back in February. Upon receiving the notice, Lundy said he referred the matter to the county’s administrator Tom Williams, however nothing was done to keep the domain under the county’s control.
Williams explained that there have been plans to migrate all of the county’s online sites to “.gov” domains, and that appears to be the reason why the existing domain wasn’t immediately renewed.
Poker678 Takes Over
Visitors to the visitloraincounty.com are now being redirected to Poker678, an Indonesian online poker skin that runs under the IDN Poker network, which caters to customers across the Asia Pacific region.
Based on online records, the visitloraincounty.com domain expired on February 7, 2021. It went up for sale via GoDaddy and was then acquired by a hosting company in China within just 48 hours.
Domain Sale May Be Initiated by Cybersquatters
While the site’s original content have all been wiped out and replaced by that of Poker678, it still notably contains the Lorain County metadata, which could mean that the domain has been sold through a practice known as “cybersquatting“. Cybersquatters usually target lapsed domains so that they can sell them later for a much higher price to the original owner of the domain.
A strong indication that the domain might have been intended for cybersquatting is the fact that the new user of the domain, IDNPoker, is an “Asia-facing” network, meaning all online poker sites running as part of the network focus on the Asian market. Lorain County is not part of Asia, but its tourism website had been attracting significant traffic prior to expiring.
While no updates had been made to the site for many years, around 60,000 people visit the page in a year, based on its latest traffic report in 2019. Lapsed domains with considerable traffic have become favorite targets of cybersquatters.
If the county wants the domain back, they are going to have to pay a premium price for it. Lorain County Commissioner Dave Moore confirming that the new owners of the domain indeed offered to sell it back to the county for $1,100.