That time a sticker made me an accidental domain squatter

It all started with my noticing of these stickers absolutely everywhere all over London. I’d also seen them in other European cities. I was never curious enough to actually search for it, so I just noticed and moved on. The method by which I discovered their true meaning was something I never expected.

The sticker in question

The sticker in question

Every now and then I’d come across one and the question would briefly pop back into my head, but it’s surprising how high the barrier to looking something up is for me. My curiosity came back more intensely after my girlfriend pointed one out and said that she’d pondered the question herself for a long time. She’d also seen them around, but once again hadn’t been curious enough to search for it. I wonder how obscure something has to be before it drops below this curiosity barrier?

Furious searching resulted in a discovery of a Twitter account along with some rather confused discussions online regarding the sticker. I also noticed the domain whysuspectus.com being free to register.

I registered the domain, thinking that it was a shame for these stickers to be everywhere with the domain being free to register. I rarely buy frivolous domains, but this one just stood out to me for some reason. I bought it on a whim. I didn’t really do anything interesting with it. I set up something cute for my girlfriend and also made it point to my CV, because I wasn’t sure what else to do with it.

I forgot about it for a few months. In the back of my head, I wondered if the original owner of the domain would notice or whether they’d totally forgotten about their attempt at viral marketing.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone who I will refer to as Steve (all details scrubbed out of request for the artist in question!).

Hey Kevin, My name is Steve, I’m a $age year old artist from $area. In 2011 I designed the Why Suspect Us logo In January 2017 I created a website at www.whysuspectus.com to sell t-shirts and art for my brand using my why suspect us logo. The shirts didn’t sell. I dropped out of university, worked really, really hard, full time as a $servicejob for a year and a half so that I could travel around Europe working hard, putting up stickers. While traveling the credit card attached to the domain name expired and I see that you’ve since registered www.whysuspectus.com I’m a struggling young artist in 2019 and its painful, gut wrenching and heartbreaking to see someone else take control of the domain name. I am appealing to you to pass me back the domain I have spent several years curating - I am happy to compensate you for costs of transferring and hope you can appreciate my anguish at the current situation. Thank you, Steve

When I saw this email, I was pretty gobsmacked. I assumed whoever had done all this had just forgotten all about it. I also assumed that even if they’d noticed, they’d do nothing but chuckle about the silly use of the domain.

After laughing for a bit, I replied:

Hi Steve, I had a feeling you might contact me! I’m Kevin, an engineer from London. It’s nice to hear from you. I bought this domain after I wondered what the hell these stickers were everywhere. It seemed a shame to let a domain with stickers all over Europe go to some domain squatter, so I purchased it and set up some silly stuff with it. I’ll make you a deal! I will transfer the domain to you free of charge, in return for a few of those stickers. I’d also love an explanation as to what “why suspect us” means - if it has a meaning! it’s good for at least the next 10 months. To do this, You’ll need to register a Namecheap account and provide me the email you used. You should consider yourself very lucky! A domain squatter would have asked for hundreds if not thousands. I highly recommend renewing your domains if you intend to keep them - even if you’re not using them. I’ve lost domains to squatters and it sucks. Thanks, Kevin

Almost immediately after I get a reply:

Hi Kevin, Thank you so much! It really means alot to me. Very lucky you’re a good guy I have made an account with namecheap using this email address: steve@some-email.com And yes! Where would you like the stickers sent! I also have a few custom WSU T-shirts, what size can i send you? Thank you Kevin I really appreciate it Steve Stickers on their way!

Past this point I verified the persons ownership of the domain via a method I won’t talk about here and transferred Steve the domain.

A few weeks later, I received my shirt, as promised.

In this story, the original owner of that domain got incredibly lucky that a domain squatter didn’t extort him. I have lost domains to squatters and it absolutely sucks. Domain squatting should be made illegal. In this case, the squatter happened to be a curious engineer who didn’t want to let an opportunity pass by.

This makes me wonder whether domains are ‘too’ easy to purchase. The fact that within 10 minutes I was able to squat a persons previous business could have been incredibly harmful. Imagine if I’d used the domain for naughty purposes!

This story has little point, but was an interesting interaction and answered the question I had all along. It’s a T-shirt brand! The artist in question seems to have decided to stop selling them now though, so if you’d like one give the author a bell! https://whysuspectus.bigcartel.com/products