A number of Megaupload Web domains seized by the U.S. Department of Justice three years ago as part of an anti-piracy raid appear to have been taken over again, this time by someone using the site's notoriety to spread porn and malicious software. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom accused the Justice Department of failing to renew the domain registration, a claim that now appears to be grounded in truth.

Megaupload was the notorious storage locker that, until it was shut down in a January 2012 police raid, enabled users willing to pay a regular fee to share and watch almost any copyrighted movie or TV show. Since then, any user trying to visit the network of Megaupload sites had been redirected to a page broadcasting a notice that the FBI had seized the site in question. That was until earlier this week, when Web users began to notice the sites (Megaupload.com, Megavideo.com and a handful of others) now tempt users to click on porn-infused ads and fake news articles, an action that would give hackers access to their computer.

When the Department of Justice took control of the Megaupload domain, they registered it with Cirfu.net. But examinations by TorrentFreak and then Ars Technica have determined that someone in the Justice Department failed to follow up on the annual renewal, making it possible for a British hacker calling himself EarlGrey to win an auction for the URL rights.

“Obviously, there are people trying to get ahold of domain names when they go into expiry,” Scott Gerlach, a senior security architect at the registration company GoDaddy, told Ars Technica. “The part that's different in this case is there is malware going onto those sites, and that this particular domain was providing DNS [Domain Name System] control for a bunch of other ones. This is the first time we've seen that.”

Kim Dotcom says he was less surprised. The flamboyant Megaupload founder, who has been compared to a James Bond villain and has spent years fighting extradition to the U.S. from New Zealand, trashed the Department of Justice during a conversation with TorrentFreak, then moved to Twitter.