Did Halvarez act alone? Domainers deserve to know!

Now that the Snapnames auction history data is available as far back as 2004, the next question is: Did Nelson “halvarez” Brady act alone, both in the bidding alias sense and in the real wold sense?

In other words, was “halvarez” the only Snapnames account used to jack up prices in auctions – and did Nelson Brady have accomplices in this digital fraud?

If we look at the bidding volume, “halvarez” appears to be a prolific bidder, with more than 50,000 domains directly affected by his shill bidding activity. To establish the method of carpet bidding, “halvarez” took advantage of a little known fact: that one could place initial bids after the deadline had passed.

Once he was in every auction of domains dropping on that day, “halvarez” would attempt to delete all the auctions he participated in; the key was to avoid being a single bidder. Because of the mechanism in place, any auction that had other bidders participating would ensure that he would not be removed from and that he’d be a 2nd, 3rd etc. bidder in a row of participants; ready to take it to the next level at the private battle among those that entered the auction.

This was the safe method that frustrated many and which was shared by an elite few that discovered exactly what “halvarez” was doing and replicated it successfully – not for the purpose of shill bidding, but for the purpose of safely entering a large number of auctions.

The person that obviously knew of this loophole was the VP of Engineering, Nelson Brady. He exploited it to his benefit over and over again, during the course of several years. Once safely in a number of auctions, he was able to peruse the ones that others participated in; almost surely peeking at ongoing reserve prices and being able to monitor live the strategies of several big domain players. These players eventually stopped using Snapnames, leading to speculations that they were either frustrated by the artificial antagonism caused by “halvarez” – or perhaps after other arrangements took place.

On several occasions, “halvarez” was defended upon by Snapnames employees in various domain forums, alleging that he was “not suspicious of any wrongful activity” and that he was a “high-volume bidder”.

If Snapnames indeed  researched the background of “halvarez” after several domainers started to report his activity, it would appear that all research was stopped by a high ranking Snapnames officer, who had the authority to divert all research to results of his choice.

Therefore, it is not clear at this point whether Nelson “halvarez” Brady acted alone, or whether he abused his power as VP of Engineering, in order to shield himself and his activities from scrutiny. It is not clear whether the research was re-established after Snapnames started losing auction revenue – particularly after Namejet became a big player – or, whether someone had inside information on the activities and became the “deepthroat” in classic Watergate fashion.

The following weeks will definitely be very interesting to watch. Snapnames and its parent company, Oversee, will have a lot of hard work to do in order to reassure the domain community that the culprit of this large-scale fraud has been isolated.


  1. Nelson Alvarez says

    He probably was helped by the real “Nelson Alvarez” and used his last name to cover his profile. Well this is my best theory about all this mess.

  2. Brady used “halvarez” as a bidding alias for the persona of “Hank Alvarez”. There wasn’t any reference to a Nelson Alvarez.

  3. Malaka, get over this and get on with things. It’s called making money and you should try doing more of it.

  4. Sounds like you’re talking about the “Single Bidder Theory” here.

    Hard to believe that a single bidder could have traveled into so many auctions, with so many different angles, twists and turns — and that no one else knew about it.

    I say there was NOT a single bidder. I say it’s possible that the CIA, the FBI, the KGB, Fidel Castro, the Mafia and possibly even the AFL-CIO were all involved in a conspiracy to assassinate domainers’ bank accounts.

  5. @Bill, how about telling your family members what to do instead; see how that works out for you. I make plenty of money, malaka. 360.org alone brought in $25k.

    @Barefoot – Very interesting analogy. I like the JFK overtones. As I analyzed in my article, it’s impossible to simply speculate, without having forensic evidence of the opposite from what Snapnames announced. Maybe an independent committee – or a movie 😀 – would unleash the conspiracy.

  6. You know, Acro… I was thinking about a movie, too.

    “The Halvarez Swindle”

    So who should play Nelson?

  7. Either Nicholas “Matchstick Men” Cage or Leonardo “Catch me if you can” DiCaprio 😀

  8. Also important advantage was he saw stats for last 3 days so knew perfectly how much traffic and revenue the domain gets

  9. me thinks the grassy knoll will turn out to be a crowded place once this is all out in the light.

    Interstate / International Wire Fraud comes to mind as a starting point for a REAL investigation… this week should prove to be quite interesting.

  10. Wow, this is reminding me of teh Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet cheating scandal. It wasn’t until the users started doing thei homework and comparing notes did the companies release information.

    Keep on them guys

  11. Someone apparently spoke, thus opening the floodgates.

  12. In short – “halvarez” cared more about participating than about winning.

    In any big enough random sample of auctions a user with such goals should usually have:
    1. A high participation ratio.
    2. Very low ratio as lone bidder.
    3. Very low ratio of money spent on winning compared to number of auctions entered.
    4. Some bidding activity.

    Any “experienced, independent accounting forensics firm” could find such other user names pretty fast.

  13. couldnt agree with you more, we should know, my attornieys should know too, they can be reached at:
    Michael J. Aschenbrener | KamberEdelson LLC
    350 N. LaSalle St., Suite 1300
    Chicago, IL 60654
    1.312.589.6379 (direct) | 1.312.589.6370 (firm) | 1.312.589.6378 (fax)
    maschenbrener@kamberedelson.com | http://www.kamberedelson.com

  14. pitbullstew says

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