This is a story that hardly will ever happen again, unless some serious technical error occurs. The story is about a man, who bought the domain google.com for $12 and owned it for some time, before Google itself took it back.
As unbelievable as it sounds, it did happen.
Sanmay Ved, a former Google employee on September 29, 2015 was working on learning more about the Google Domains interface. He typed “google.com” and clicked search domains. To his surprise, Google.com was showing as available.
“I clicked the add to cart icon beside the domain (which should not appear if the domain is not available for sale). The domain actually got added to my cart as seen by the green check-box, and the domain appeared in my cart. I was hoping I would get an error at sometime saying transaction did not go through, but I was able to complete purchase, and my credit card was actually charged,” said Ved himself.
He went on to say that as soon as he completed the purchase, he received two emails (from email@example.com, and one from firstname.lastname@example.org). Ved said the bought domain also successfully appeared in his Google Domains order history.
“Additionally, my Google Search Console (aka Google Webmaster Tools) was auto-updated with webmaster related messages for the Google.com domain which actually means ownership was transferred to me,” Ved said.
Further on, he started receiving notifications, for when ownership changed (along with new owner details etc.) in the Google Search Console for websites that are powered by Google Sites (which makes sense given that websites powered by Google Sites rest on the master domain Google.com).
“Quite clearly, ownership had been granted to me. Order was successful,” Ved said.
Nevertheless, the fact is the fact – one man, for a limited time, had access to the most popular online giant, Google. Sanmay Ved seems to be the only person in the world who can now say that he owned Google.com.
Though purchase had successfully gone through, and domain now belonged to him, Ved said the purchase was followed by an order cancellation email from Google Domains. Google could do this given the registration service used by him (aka Google Domains) belonged to Google.
“I don’t know what caused Google to lose ownership of the domain Google.com as a result of which it was available in the open market,” he said.
The ex-Google employee confirmed that he had reported the breach to Google’s security team. He admitted that this could been a disaster, if he took advantage of the access to the webmaster controls he had for a minute.
This story ends better than you might think, as Ved also got rewarded by Google for his actions. Since Google has a policy of rewarding those who find security gaps and problems in Google’s various systems as a way of reducing vulnerabilities and protecting itself, Ved got his reward from the company.
He didn’t specify the amount (but said that it was more than $10,000), and donated it to an Indian foundation dedicated to bringing education to slums. Google doubled that amount, and donated it to The Art of Living – India.