A social media influencer who resorted to extreme measures in a bid to secure a website domain name was this week given a 14-year jail term for his efforts.
The offender, Rossi Lorathio Adams II, 27, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ran a social media company called State Snaps that he founded while a student at Iowa State University in 2015.
More than a million people followed his Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter accounts, which, according to the Department of Justice, “mostly contained images and videos of young adults engaged in crude behavior, drunkenness, and nudity.” The content featured mainly students at Iowa State University, and despite college officials’ protestations, Adams continued uploading material to the accounts.
With the sites becoming more popular, Adams decided he wanted to buy the doitforstate.com domain, as “do it for state” had become a popular slogan among his followers. And that’s where the trouble really started.
The domain was already owned by another Cedar Rapids resident, prompting Adams to embark on a campaign to try to obtain it.
When the domain owner refused to sell it for what Adams deemed to be a reasonable price, the offender threatened one of the domain owner’s friends by sending him gun emojis after he used the domain to promote a number of events.
But the story took an even uglier turn in June 2017 when Adams called on his cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr., to help. Hopkins, a convicted felon, was given the task of forcing the domain owner to hand over ownership of the domain.
Adams drove Hopkins to the victim’s home, handing his cousin a note explaining how to transfer ownership of the domain name.
The Department of Justice said in its report on the case, “When Hopkins entered the victim’s home in Cedar Rapids, he was carrying a cellular telephone, a stolen gun, a taser, and he was wearing a hat, pantyhose on his head, and dark sunglasses on his face.”
The report goes on to describe what happened next: “The victim was upstairs and heard Hopkins enter the home. From the top of a staircase, the victim saw Hopkins with the gun on the first floor. Hopkins shouted at the victim, who then ran into an upstairs bedroom and shut the door, leaning up against the door to stop Hopkins from entering.”
Pursuing the victim, Hopkins “kicked the door open, grabbed the victim by the arm and demanded to know where he kept his computer.” Hopkins then ordered the man to turn on the computer and get online.
The report said Hopkins “put the firearm against the victim’s head and and ordered him to follow the directions on the demand note.” A scuffle then took place in which the gun went off, firing a bullet into the victim’s leg. As the fight continued, the injured man managed to seize control of the gun before shooting Hopkins “multiple times” in the chest. He then called the police.
On Monday, December 9, Adams was handed a 14-year jail term after a jury earlier this year found him guilty of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats, and violence.
Hopkins survived the gunshots and was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2018.
When it comes to securing a domain name, this is certainly one of the stranger stories we’ve heard, leading us to conclude that in some circumstances it may be better to simply think of another one.
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