The Wild, Terrifying Story of an Influencer's Plot to Steal a URL at Gunpoint
He's facing up to 20 years in prison for hiring someone to put a gun to a man's head and demand his domain name.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.
A 26-year-old social media influencer is facing up to 20 years in prison after masterminding a truly batshit robbery plot, complete with hired guns, tasers, and baffling disguises—all to steal the perfect domain name, according to the US Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Iowa.
When he was a student at Iowa State back in 2015, Rossi Lorathio Adams II dreamed up and launched State Snaps—a company that collected and posted videos of college kids partying, getting wasted, and generally doing dumb shit on social media.
"At one time, Adams had over a million followers on his social media sites, which mostly contained images and videos of young adults engaged in crude behavior, drunkenness, and nudity," a release from the Department of Justice reads.
The posts were often accompanied by the hashtag #DoItforState, and so naturally, Adams decided that he should lock down the URL "doitforstate.com" to help expand his burgeoning media empire. Unfortunately for him, that domain name was already taken, and the owner wasn't willing to sell it. So Adams took matters into his own hands.
For the next two years, Adams relentlessly hassled the URL's owner, going so far as to threaten "one of the domain owner’s friends with gun emojis after the friend used the domain to promote concerts," the DoJ's release states.
Apparently, those terrifying emojis didn't cut it. In the summer of 2017, unable to convince the domain owner to sell, Adams hatched a truly godawful scheme: He got his cousin, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., to bust into the owner's home and force him to hand over the domain name—or else.
It went, unsurprisingly, very, very badly. From the DoJ's release:
Adams drove Hopkins to the domain owner’s house and provided Hopkins with a demand note, which contained instructions for transferring the domain to Adams’ GoDaddy account. 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.
Hopkins reportedly kicked down the domain owner's bedroom door, dragged the guy to his computer, put a gun to his head, and "ordered him to follow the directions on the demand note," then repeatedly pistol whipped him. The victim didn't even get a chance to follow through on the URL transfer instructions before the entire plan dissolved into a bloody, horrifying mess:
Fearing for his life, the victim quickly turned to move the gun away from his head. The victim then managed to gain control of the gun, but during the struggle, he was shot in the leg. The victim shot Hopkins multiple times in the chest. He then contacted law enforcement.
Hopkins survived the gunshot wounds and was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year. Now Adams could face the same punishment after an Iowa jury found the 26-year-old guilty of "conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats, and violence."
For the record, Adams never got the domain name he wanted, but State Snaps appears to live on at www.doit4state.com. Adams is now facing up to two decades in prison and a $250,000, seemingly just because he wanted to spell out the word "for" in his web address.