It may seem strange that I lost my domain name. It was ParisKim.com, meaningless except to a very small group of fans of relatively obscure pairing. Who else would want it?
Answer: the domain name vampires. They buy up names as they become available, either in hopes of getting a ransom from the legitimate owner, or in order to re-sell the traffic. It doesn't matter if your domain doesn't get much traffic; they will just bundle it with other domains, and sell it that way. People actually pay to have random traffic pointed toward their sites, even if it means hijacking other sites' visitors.
There are many different ways a domain can be swiped. In my case, it was my web hoster's fault. I trusted her, because she was a fan, who had been recommended by another fan. I asked her to buy and set up a domain for me, gave her the money, and specifically told her to make me the registrant. She did not. She put my domain name under her own name. I don't think it was malicious; it was just easier that way. Nevertheless, that left me screwed when I wanted to move my web site to another webhoster.
Service had declined considerably. I was charged an outrageous amount for going over my allotted bandwidth. She never remembered what I had paid, and kept billing me again for the same thing. And she let her own domain lapse, making me fear that her webhosting business was going belly-up, as many were at the time. I decided to move to my current webhoster, Xeran, because they offered unlimited bandwidth. But I couldn't - not without my current webhoster's cooperation, because the domain was in her name, not mine. I asked her repeatedly to transfer the domain name to me, and even offered to pay any fees, but she wouldn't do it. I don't know if she was just too busy, or if she was refusing out of pique, because I was taking my business elsewhere. She did eventually amend the record so that the domain name pointed to my new server, but she did not transfer ownership.
So when my domain name expired, I couldn't renew it - because it wasn't registered to me. I'd hoped to buy it again when the registration expired, but it was bought out from under me, while I was at work. (Domain names remain unavailable for awhile after the registration expires, the amount of time depending on the company that you register with. So I had no way of knowing exactly when it would be available again.)
Some guy in Florida hijacked my domain name. He does it a lot, apparently. I didn't even bother to contact him. I refuse to give one red cent to domain name hijackers. I just registered a new name instead.
I could have taken my former webhoster to court (this sort of thing has been litigated before, and she was definitely in the wrong), but it would cost more than registering a new name. I could have challenged the hijacker, and probably would have won, but that would cost at least $1,000 in fees. So I just registered a new name.
The moral of the story is to make sure that if you buy a domain name, you are listed as the registrant. There have been cases where the webhoster went out of business, and it was impossible to even contact him or her to ask him to transfer ownership. You might be able to talk the registrar into giving you the name, but don't count on it.
I'm not the only fan to encounter the domain name vampires. SlashCity.net did as well. They also own SlashCity.com, SlashCity.org, and SlashCity.tv, and they do get a lot of hits, so I can see why they might be attractive to a hijacker.
Anyway, the renewal notice for SlashCity.net was either not sent out, or was sent to the wrong address. And someone in Russia registered it a few minutes after it became available. They put up a porn site there, as well as a ransom notice. SlashCity posted requests to various newsgroups and mailing lists, asking people not to visit SlashCity.net, because the more hits it got, the higher the ransom got.
Well, the pirates made the mistake of getting greedy. If they'd asked for only a few hundred bucks, Slash City would have paid the ransom. But when the asking price got near $1,000, Slash City decided to challenge instead. They opened up a "defense fund" account on PayPal, and fans donated more than enough money to cover the fees for challenging. And they won. :-)
More recently, actor Tim Russ' official website, TimRussWebpage.com, was hijacked. His sister, who runs the site, paid her hoster for automatic domain renewal, but they screwed up, and someone from Hong Kong swiped the name. She thought about challenging, but decided that life was too short, and registered TimRussWebpage.net instead. But a visitor to the site wanted them to have their domain name back, and bought it from the hijacker for them. (I'm glad they got their domain name back, but sorry the hijacker profited from his misdeeds.)