Stephen M. Cohen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other persons with a similar name, see Stephen Cohen.
Stephen M. Cohen’s business card

Stephen Michael Cohen (born February 23, 1948)[1] is an American convicted felon[1][2][3] best known for his fradulent acquisition of the domain name[4][5] He was also involved in the controversial peer-to-peer service EarthStation 5.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Cohen was born in Los Angeles[1][8] and attended Van Nuys High School in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.[1][5]

Early career and convictions[edit]

In 1975, Cohen was convicted of grand theft and check-kiting.[2][9]

In the 1980s, he operated a paid-membership bulletin board system (BBS) called the French Connection, geared toward Swinging and other sexual topics,[2][8] 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.[2] 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.[2][edit]

Main article:
Stephen M. Cohen’s business card

Cohen fraudulently obtained the lucrative Internet domain name 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.[4][10] It is estimated that Cohen earned US$100 million between October 1995 and November 2000 from his ownership of[5]

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.[3] 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.[11] As of 2005 the amount of damages owed to Kremen had increased to $82 million with interest.[3]

Cohen was released from custody on December 5, 2006, by Judge Ware because Kremen's lawyers had been unable to uncover Cohen's offshore bank accounts.[12]

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.[13][14]

EarthStation 5[edit]

Main article: EarthStation 5

Cohen was involved in EarthStation 5.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d McCarthy, Kieren (2007-05-03). "Stephen Michael Cohen" (PDF). Sex.Com (PDF). Quercus. p. 38. ISBN 9781905204663.  — via Waterstones
  2. ^ a b c d e Craig Bicknell. "The Sordid Saga of". Archived from the original on June 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  3. ^ a b c " thief faces justice after hiding out in Mexico for four years". 2005-11-04. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  4. ^ a b E-Commerce By Pankaj, APH Publishing, 1 Jan 2010, pp.75-77 and 197-198
  5. ^ a b c Violet Blue, Special to SF Gate (2006-12-21). " A URL - All Crime And No Sex". SFGate. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ a b Sponsored by (2003-12-20). "Online music: Sex, lies and Earth Station 5". The Economist. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  8. ^ a b Jenny Booth and Roland Watson Updated 46 minutes ago (2012-03-13). "The Times | UK News, World News and Opinion". London: Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  9. ^ McCarthy, Kieren (2007-05-03). "Stephen Michael Cohen" (PDF). Sex.Com (PDF). Quercus. p. 40. ISBN 9781905204663.  — via Waterstones
  10. ^ 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. [2]
  11. ^ U.S. v. Cohen, Case # 3:05MJ01732, Judge Leo S. Papas (S.D. Cal. (San Diego), Oct. 28, 2005)
  12. ^ " thief released from prison". The Register. 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 
  13. ^ Pardon, Rhett (2011-12-23). "Former Owner Still Chasing $65M Unpaid Judgment". Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  14. ^ Pardon, Rhett (2012-01-09). "Kremen Can Continue Claims Against Cohen's Cousin". Retrieved 2012-08-03.