This is strange. Someone I know just called me and said they accidentally let their domain name expire as of today. Their credit card was expired and no renewal failures came to his email.
He couldn't remember his registrar login, so he called their support (I'll keep their name confidential for now since he is supposedly waiting for a call back, and I don't want to muddy the waters).
He said the support person sounded very vague and "shady", speaking quietly and saying things like "I really can't do anything about that right now... There's a few things going on here today..."; things like that. The domain owner was told that someone would look into it, and call him back.
This is not a huge domain registrar, but they are well known.
I suggested he call back and see if he gets another support person. He was told that his domain has been locked until he writes a letter proving ownership. My contact said, "it sounds like you think I'm involved in some kind of illegal activity or something" and the reply is, " oh no, nothing like that".
Now, this is a domain that expired just today! It is a tiny Web site, and the real thing of value is that it is the person's email account.
In 20 years of involvement with domain name registration, I've never heard of anything so strange and suspicious.
Is there a possibility that something deeper is going on here on the part of the registrar?