A domain registrar popular with far-right extremists is being sued for embezzling a client’s funds as part of “a widespread and illegal fraudulent scheme” that’s been going on for years.
Epik’s monetary struggles and customer accusations against it were first reported by the Daily Dot.
Michael Adkisson claims that he contacted Epik to purchase the domain name nourish.com last May. He alleges that he paid Epik $300,000 for the domain and $27,000 in commission the same day. The funds, per Adkisson’s complaint, were to be placed in escrow pending transfer of the domain.
Adkisson says that Epik never transferred ownership of nourish.com. The domain remains for sale as of this writing. He says Epik only returned $20,000 of the $327,000 he paid it.
Last week, Adkisson filed suit against Epik, its longtime chief executive officer and current chairman of the board Rob Monster, and current CEO Brian Royce.
Adkisson’s lawsuit claims that Epik has been struggling financially for some time. To pay debts and funds owed to other customers, he claims Epik improperly used his and other customers’ money and commingled funds from other companies Monster owns.
“Defendants apparently used the Escrow Funds as their personal piggybank and misappropriated the entirety of Adkisson’s $327,000 escrow payment,” his complaint alleges. It also claims that Epik’s attorney admitted the company had misappropriated the funds.
He further claims that Epik has been doing this for years. The suit includes screenshots of multiple purported reviews from customers complaining about Epik not paying them what they were owed.
“As these debts and consumer complaints quickly piled up, Epik started using payments from new consumers—which, again, were meant to be held in escrow—to pay down old debts,” the suit states.
He claims that “dozens” of customers say Epik hasn’t paid what it owes them; one customer allegedly claims Epik owes them $1.5 million, “which has apparently also gone missing.”
Adkisson’s lawsuit says that Royce confirmed that the company had been mishandling funds on a podcast in October. His complaint alleges that Monster stepped down as CEO when the matter came to light.
Although his suit also names Royce, Adkisson insists that Monster is primarily to blame.
“Monster has been at the heart of this fraud,” the lawsuit states. “He has been the controlling party throughout the time Epik effectuated their fraudulent scheme.”
Royce has also cast the blame on Monster. On Tuesday, Royce tweeted, “This lawsuit is about something that happened in June before I was involved with Epik.”
Epik did not respond to an emailed inquiry sent Thursday afternoon.