Bizarre Plot Sees Man Jailed For Plotting Domain Name Theft At Gunpoint

An American man has been sentenced to 14 years in jail after being convicted of having his cousin try to hijack a domain name from another man at gunpoint, reports Associated Press. Rossi Lorathio Adams II from Cedar rapids, Iowa, aged 27, was sentenced to the federal prison term following his conviction in April of one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats and violence. Adams also must pay restitution and court fees.

According to the report, Adams founded social media company State Snaps, whose followers often used the slogan “Do It For State!” Adams repeatedly tried to buy the domain from another Cedar Rapids man, but the owner refused to sell.

“In 2017, Adams convinced his cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr., to break into the domain owner’s house, where he tried to force him at gunpoint to transfer the domain to Adams. During a struggle, Hopkins and the domain owner were shot but both survived. Hopkins was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for the crime.”

In another report from Forbes, it says “for the better part of three years, Adams’ State Snaps account, founded while he was at Iowa State University, documented all sorts of college debauchery. Adams racked up more than 1.5 million followers along the way. … Operating on Instagram and Twitter, but doing the largest portion of its posting on Snapchat, State Snaps allowed students to submit clips and photos of their most outrageous behaviour.”

But Adams coveted the domain name which he didn’t have. He attempted to purchase it from the registrant multiple times between 2015 and 2017 according to the Department of Justice, but the domain owner had no interest in selling. So Adams tried to steal it, recruiting his cousin, already a felon and living in a homeless shelter at the time, Adams wanted his cousin to break into the registrant’s home and threaten him at gunpoint to give up the website, according to Forbes.

“On June 21, 2017, Adams drove his cousin to the owner’s house, gave him a demand note with instructions on how to transfer ownership of the domain to Adams’ GoDaddy account. Adams’ cousin entered the domain holder’s home with a cellphone, stolen gun and taser in hand while wearing a hat, pantyhose over his head and dark sunglasses to cover his eyes. The domain holder, upstairs in his home, spotted the intruder at the bottom of the steps and tried to lock himself in his room. Adams’ cousin kicked open the door, grabbed the domain holder by the arm and demanded access to his computer. He placed the gun to the man’s head and told him to follow the directions in the note provided by Adams. The intruder hit the domain holder in the head multiple times with the pistol, which resulted in the domain holder entering into a struggle to gain control of the gun. He was shot in the leg during the struggle, but took possession of the firearm and shot Adams’ cousin in the chest multiple times before calling the police.”

Adams “will also have to pay nearly $9,000 in restitution, including $1,477.60 to the victim and domain holder. Most remnants of the State Snaps accounts have disappeared from the internet and have been suspended by Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter for violating terms of service. Adams’ sentencing seems to close the chapter on the brief run of the Do It For State movement.”