Stephen M. Cohen
Stephen Michael Cohen (born February 23, 1948) is an American convicted felon best known for his fradulent acquisition of the domain name Sex.com. He was also involved in the controversial peer-to-peer service EarthStation 5.
Early career and convictions
In the 1980s, he operated a paid-membership bulletin board system (BBS) called the French Connection, geared toward Swinging and other sexual topics, and by the late 1980s, he organized swinger get-togethers at a home in Orange County, California. In 1990, he was arrested for operating a sex club in a residential zone. He relocated the enterprise and charges were dropped. In 1991, he was convicted in a bankruptcy fraud scheme in which he forged documents and assumed other identities. He was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, and was released on February 1, 1995.
Cohen fraudulently obtained the lucrative Internet domain name Sex.com in May 1995 from the original registrant, Gary Kremen, who had registered it in May 1994. Cohen obtained the domain by means of a forged letter to domain registrar Network Solutions, faxed from Kremen's company "Online Classified", fraudulently stating that Kremen had been dismissed and the firm was abandoning the domain and that Cohen could have it. Network Solutions blindly accepted the fax with no verification and transferred the domain to Cohen, an action that would prove grounds for a later civil suit by Kremen against Network Solutions. It is estimated that Cohen illegally earned US$100 million between October 1995 and November 2000 from his ownership of sex.com.
In April 2001, the court ordered damages of $65 million be paid to Kremen. Cohen then fled to Tijuana, Mexico where he was arrested on October 28, 2005. On that same day, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California filed federal civil contempt charges in San Diego, California against Cohen for violation of a court order under 18 U.S.C. §401. As of 2005 the amount of damages owed to Kremen had increased to $82 million with interest.
Since then, Cohen has not paid the $67 million judgement, and pleads poverty. Courts have ruled in Kremen's favor several times since 2006, with evidence that seven individuals, including some of Cohen's family members, and twelve companies were used to help him hide the money.
Cohen was involved in EarthStation 5.
- McCarthy, Kieren (2007-05-03). "Stephen Michael Cohen" (PDF). Sex.Com (PDF). Quercus. p. 38. ISBN 9781905204663. — via Waterstones
- Craig Bicknell. "The Sordid Saga of Sex.com". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-07-11.[dead link]
- "Sex.com thief faces justice after hiding out in Mexico for four years". News.findlaw.com. 2005-11-04. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- E-Commerce By Pankaj, APH Publishing, 1 Jan 2010, pp.75-77 and 197-198
- Violet Blue, Special to SF Gate (2006-12-21). "Sex.com: A URL - All Crime And No Sex". SFGate. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- [dead link]
- Sponsored by (2003-12-20). "Online music: Sex, lies and Earth Station 5". The Economist. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
- Jenny Booth and Roland Watson Updated 46 minutes ago (2012-03-13). "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". London: Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- McCarthy, Kieren (2007-05-03). "Stephen Michael Cohen" (PDF). Sex.Com (PDF). Quercus. p. 40. ISBN 9781905204663. — via Waterstones
- Kremen v. Network Solutions, Inc. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. James Ware, District Judge, Presiding. Argued August 13, 2002. Submitted July 25, 2003—San Francisco, California. Filed July 25, 2003. Before: Alex Kozinski and M. Margaret McKeown, Circuit Judges, and James M. Fitzgerald, District Judge. Opinion by Judge Kozinski. 
- U.S. v. Cohen, Case # 3:05MJ01732, Judge Leo S. Papas (S.D. Cal. (San Diego), Oct. 28, 2005)
- "Sex.com thief released from prison". The Register. 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- Pardon, Rhett (2011-12-23). "Former Sex.com Owner Still Chasing $65M Unpaid Judgment". XBIZ.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- Pardon, Rhett (2012-01-09). "Kremen Can Continue Claims Against Cohen's Cousin". XBIZ.com. Retrieved 2012-08-03.