Previous designer has hijacked the site

I’m working for a company that had their previous designer buy the hosting and domain for them. The guy is in India… but I guess that doesn’t really matter. He was going to make the company I work for pay him $500 to transfer their domain, so the company just bought a new domain. The problem is, now he has defaced the old website, and we fear that worse could happen. What can we do? We would be mortified if he put up some porn or a malicious script, and his messages to us are increasingly threatening.

I’ve never actually done that but it’s always in my mind that I have that power if a client tries to stiff me.

If I had a website built for me, knowing what I know, I’d buy the domain myself in my own name even if I had to let the webdesigner have access to both that and FTP access during the build and I’d have them sign the site design copyright over to me in writing on completion.

Yeah, I don’t really know the history of relations between the company and the other guy. He turned the site completely off now, so we had to buy another domain.

Yeah, if he registered it then he hasn’t hijacked it, he owns it.

Technically the web designer owns the copyright for a website design too unless they sign it over to their client, regardless of what payment has been exchanged. So he might not even be breaking any laws by defacing the site.

It doesn’t matter where the guy is, what matters is where the domain is registered and hosted. However, what really matters is the contact info and who made the purchase. If he does put something derogatory on the old domain, contact the host and tell them. Most reputable hosts won’t tolerate it.

He was going to make the company I work for pay him $500 to transfer their domain

Are you sure that’s what he wanted the $500 for, or is the company trying to skip out on the bill? Maybe he wanted payment for services rendered before transferring the domain.

I guess the problem is that the other designer has changed all of the domain contacts to himself, and since he was the one who purchased the domain for the company I work for, he is likely the “owner” of the domain.

I always tell people to buy their own domains, but the company I work for didn’t know better, and had purchased the domain through the other designer long before I worked here.

I think the fact that this guy is in India makes things more complicated. We are in the USA, and I’m sure that taking legal action is way outside of what the domain is really worth. It’s just sad for the company that they ever got involved with this guy.

I’d pay him off and not make the same mistake again.

Don’t let a third party control your domain registration and hosting.

Have you gone to the registrar (the place where the domain was registered) and stated that the domain has been hijacked? They should (as long as your client is still the registered owner of the domain and the other person hasn’t paid for a renewal themselves) be able to help you resolve the issue of domain theft. If they can’t help you, it’s likely you’ll need to take the matter up (along with the threats) with a lawyer and pursue a lawsuit - though that’ll be expensive. Just be sure that you don’t delete any of the messages from the abusive former designer and try to reason with him (whilst taking the matter up with the registrar). :slight_smile: